DOT Inspections: How to Be Prepared

DOT inspections are a way to make sure every part or your motor vehicle works properly. It is extremely dangerous for the driver and others if your truck is not in good condition. Every truck driver should be educated on DOT inspections. Getting your truck inspected can be an inconvenient process. It can also interfere with your schedule and cause you to be late or short on time. Knowing what to expect and being well-prepared will make the DOT inspection go a lot quicker and smoother.


Levels of inspection

The North American Inspection Program consists of 6 levels of inspection. Each inspection is different. Some are short and some are long. Level I inspections are the most thorough and common. State troopers, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, or the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance can conduct inspections. It’s not uncommon for drivers to be stopped unexpectedly. It’s good for drivers to be familiar with all levels.


Level I. North American Standard Inspection
The level I inspections take roughly 45 minutes to an hour. Inspectors will check the driver’s CDL, log books, medical certificate and more. Next, they perform a thorough inspection on the outside and inside of the truck to make sure the brakes, lights, wheels, fuel system and more are working properly.


Level II. Walk Around Inspection
Level II inspections are like level I except the inspector does not get under the truck and the driver is not present.


Level III. Driver-Only Inspection
The inspector will do a thorough inspection on the driver’s credentials. They will check the driver’s license, medical certification, skills performance evaluation certificate, record of duty status and seat belt usage.


Level IV. Special Inspection
These inspections are a one-time examination that inspect one specific thing.


Level V. Vehicle-Only Inspection
The inspector will examine everything on the truck like a level I inspection.


Level VI. Enhanced NAS Inspection for Radioactive Shipments
This inspection examine certain radiological shipments- hazardous freight, medical waste, or nuclear material. If the driver passes the exam the inspector will attach a nuclear symbol to the CMV. This symbol is only valid for one trip.


How to prepare for DOT inspections

DOT inspections typically take an hour. Assuming the driver has all the required documentation and the vehicle is properly maintained. Being prepared can reduce violations and get you back on the road quickly. Drivers should follow these tips:

  • Keep a clean truck (inside and out)
  • Have documents neat and organized
  • Be polite
  • Have your company name and USDOT number printed visibly on your truck
  • Secure shipments properly
  • Understand inspection procedures.

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Maranda Heaverin

Maranda Heaverin

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