Truck drivers seldom look forward to the prospect of being pulled over for a DOT inspection. However, it’s an essential part of the job and you always need to be prepared for it. There’s no need to worry about getting inspected as long as you know what to expect.
Let’s look at everything you have to check to make sure your vehicle is ready for a DOT inspection.
Types of DOT Truck Inspections
There are six levels of inspection for trucks, Level 1 through Level 6. Here’s a rundown of what each level involves.
Level 1 – North American Standard Inspection
The most common type of DOT inspection, this involves inspecting both the driver and vehicle. The driver should be ready to show the inspector documents such as a driver’s license, Driver’s Daily Log and Hours of Service, and the Driver and Vehicle Inspection Report (DVIR). You should also be prepared for the following vehicle areas to be inspected.
- Brakes and Tires
- Coupling devices
- Exhaust system
- Fuel system
- Electrical cables
- Emergency exits
- Headlamps, stop lamps, brake lamps, and tail lamps
- Safe loading
- Securement of cargo
- Steering mechanism
- Turn signals
- Wheels, rims, and hubcaps
- Windshield wipers
Level 2: Walk-Around Driver/Vehicle Inspection
In a Level 2 inspection, the inspector will check all systems that don’t involve looking under the vehicle, so it’s less exhaustive.
Level 3: Driver-Only Inspection
A Level 3 inspection is a thorough inspection of the driver, which may include 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
- Seat belt
- Alcohol or drug use
Level lV: Special Inspections
Level lV inspections are done to inspect a particular vehicle feature, usually as a follow-up from a previous inspection.
Level Vl: Enhanced NAS Inspection
Level Vl inspections are specialized inspections only for vehicles traveling with Highway Route Controlled Quantities (HRCQ) or radioactive materials.
How to Prepare For a DOT Inspection
You need to be ready for any type of DOT inspection that’s relevant to your truck or vehicle and the type of load you’re carrying. Here are some guidelines to make sure you’re prepared.
- Know the regulations. The first step to preparing for a DOT inspection is to understand the regulations that govern your vehicle and cargo. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) publishes a comprehensive set of regulations that you can find on their website.
- Have your paperwork ready. You should have all the necessary documents ready so you can quickly produce them in the event of an inspection.
- Keep vehicles in good working condition. If you fix any issues promptly and keep all your truck’s parts in good order, you have nothing to worry about.
- Do your own pre-trip inspections. Before embarking on a trip, do your own inspection that mimics the DOT Level 1 inspection, going over every part and system.
- Review driver training, habits, and practices. Reinforcing proper driving habits is essential for passing inspections. Drivers should review their training and make sure they are sufficiently rested and not distracted.
How to Behave During and After the Inspection
Truck drivers should always be ready for an inspection and behave professionally towards inspectors. Drivers should bring the inspection summary to their supervisor so any violations can be addressed. If drivers aren’t clear about anything, they should ask the inspector for clarification.
Use Transportation Factoring For Better Cash Flow
DOT inspections are just one part of running a transportation or trucking company. As with other aspects of your business, the key is being well-prepared. Another way to be prepared is by improving the cash flow of your business. Transportation factoring is a type of funding where the factoring company purchases your freight bills and provides you with fast cash advances.
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