Getting stopped for an inspection in the middle of a delivery is a situation every truck driver dreads. Inspections are time-consuming and interfere with a driver's schedule for delivering their load on time. However, they are essential for regulating safety conditions for everyone on the road. There are six different levels of DOT roadside inspections. Each level has a unique set of requirements and can happen at any time. It is important to be familiar with all six levels of DOT inspections so, if you have one, you can pass.
Level One: North American Standard Inspection
The level one inspection is often referred to as a full inspection and is the most thorough inspection. There are 37 steps to a level one inspection. During this inspection, the driver’s credentials and the vehicle will be examined. Because the level one inspection has so many steps, it does take a significant amount of time. A good way to help speed the process of a level one inspection is by staying on top of driving requirements and proper truck maintenance.
Here are some things the inspector will check during a level one inspection:
- Medical examiner’s certificate
- Alcohol and drug use
- Daily logs
- Hours of Service (HOS) documentation
- Seat belt use
- Driver and vehicle inspection reports
- Brake system
- Coupling devices
- Exhaust system
- Truck frame
- Fuel system
- Turn signals
- Brake lamps
- Tail lamps
- Lamps on projecting loads
- Safe loading
- Steering mechanism
- Van and open-top trailer bodies
- Wheels and rims
- Windshield wipers
- Hazardous materials (HM) requirements: If you’re a hazmat hauler, have your shipping papers ready.
Level Two: Walk-Around Driver/Vehicle Inspection
Level two inspections are a less invasive process and are also the most common. They are similar to the level one inspections, except there is less involvement in the vehicle inspection part. During the level two inspection, the examiner will do a walk-around driver/vehicle inspection. They will check everything that is in a level one, but will not physically get under the vehicle.
Level Three: Driver-Only Inspection
The level three inspections are the second most common type of inspection. Since the inspection does not include the vehicle, it can go relatively quickly. A driver will be expected to present them the following:
- Record of Duty Status (RODS)
- Driver’s license
- HAZMAT requirements
- Medical card and waiver
- Skill Performance Evaluation (SPE) certificate
- Vehicle Inspection Report
- HM/DG requirements
- HOS documentation
Level Four: Special Inspections
A level four inspection is a one-time inspection of a specific trend within the industry. This type of inspection happens when the Department of Transportation wants to do further research on industry issues.
Level Five: Vehicle-Only Inspection
A level five inspection is like level one, but the driver is not present during the inspection. During this inspection, the examiner will check everything that is in the level one inspection except those relevant to the driver.
Level Six: Enhanced NAS Inspection for Radioactive Shipments
The level six inspection is only relevant to drivers that haul radioactive materials. These inspections are put in place to ensure drivers who haul radioactive material are following proper safety protocol.
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