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8 levels of DOT roadside inspection: Everything you need to know

8 levels of DOT roadside inspection: Everything you need to know


Imagine yourself in a hurry to catch a flight and getting stopped for an enhanced security check. A roadside inspection is not all that different from it for commercial drivers—especially when a driver is trying to pick up or deliver a load as soon as possible.

However, it’s important to remember that a roadside inspection is an important preventive measure that protects drivers and others on the road.

As a roadside inspection can occur practically anywhere, a driver must always be prepared for it. Apart from ensuring that your vehicle is in perfect condition and you have all the documents you may need, understanding the different levels of DOT inspections is also crucial.

Here are 8 different levels of DOT inspections that every driver should know about.

Level I: North American Standard Inspection

The Level-I North American Standard Inspection is considered the most comprehensive level of DOT roadside inspection. It is a 37-step procedure that examines the driver as well as the vehicle.

During the Level 1 inspection, a safety officer may examine the following vehicle-related items:

  • Suspension, tire, rim, hub, wheel assemblies
  • Open-top trailer and van bodies
  • Windshield wipers
  • Steering mechanisms
  • Driveline/driveshaft
  • Lightning systems
  • Coupling devices
  • Cargo securement
  • Frames
  • Braking systems
  • Electrical systems
  • Exhaust systems
  • Fuel systems
  • Emergency exits, seating, electrical cables and systems in engine and battery compartments for buses, motorcoaches, and passenger-carrying vehicles.
  • Hazardous material and cargo tank specification compliance, as applicable.

The inspector may also examine the following driver-related items:

  • Seatbelt usage
  • Possible drug and alcohol usage
  • Medical Examiner’s Certificate and Skill Performance Evaluation (SPE) certificate, if applicable.
  • Commercial driver license (CDL)
  • Hours of Service compliance
  • RODS compliance

During the CVSA’s International Roadcheck in 2019, 45,568 of the 67,072 inspections were classified as Level-I inspections.

Level II: Walk-around driver and vehicle inspection

The Level-II DOT inspection is very similar to the Level-1 inspection. However, the major difference is that Level-II only includes an examination of items that can be inspected without physically getting under the vehicle.

The following items may be examined during a Level-II DOT inspection.

Driver-related items:

  • Medical Examiner’s Certificate and Skill Performance Evaluation (SPE) certificate, if applicable.
  • Hours of Service compliance
  • Seat belt usage
  • Alcohol and drugs usage
  • Driver’s RODS

Vehicle-related items:

  • Cargo securement
  • Coupling devices
  • Exhaust system
  • Brake system
  • Driveline/driveshaft
  • Lighting devices
  • Fuel systems
  • Frames
  • Suspension
  • Tires
  • Steering mechanisms
  • Wheels
  • Rims
  • Hubs
  • Van and open-top trailer bodies
  • Emergency exits, seating, electrical cables and systems in engine and battery compartments for buses, motorcoaches, and passenger-carrying vehicles.
  • HM/DG and specification cargo tank requirements, as applicable.

Level III: Driver-only Inspection

As the name suggests, the Level-III driver-only inspection includes an examination of driver-related items. A Level-III inspection must include an examination of the following driver-related items:

  • Driver license
  • Medical Examiner’s Certificate and Skill Performance Evaluation (SPE) certificate
  • Record of Duty Status
  • Hours of Service
  • Carrier identification and status
  • Vehicle inspection report
  • Seat belt

Level IV: Special inspection

The Level-IV of DOT inspection includes a one-time examination of a particular item. This sort of inspection is normally done to verify or refute a suspected trend.

Level V: Vehicle-only inspection

This DOT inspection level includes a complete check of the vehicle-related items listed in the Level-I North American Standard Inspection. This examination can be conducted at any location in the absence of the driver.

The following vehicle-related items can be examined during this inspection:

  • Suspension, tire, rim, hub, wheel assemblies
  • Open-top trailer and van bodies
  • Windshield wipers
  • Steering mechanisms
  • Driveline/driveshaft
  • Lightning systems
  • Coupling devices
  • Cargo securement
  • Frames
  • Braking systems
  • Electrical systems
  • Exhaust systems
  • Fuel systems
  • Emergency exits, seating, electrical cables and systems in engine and battery compartments for buses, motorcoaches, and passenger-carrying vehicles.
  • Hazardous material and cargo tank specification compliance, as applicable.

Level VI: Enhanced NAS inspection for radioactive shipments

This level of Inspection is called the NAS (North American Standard) Inspection for Transuranic Waste and HRCQ (Highway Route Controlled Quantities) of Radioactive Material. It involves checking for specific radiological shipments, which includes:

  • Enhancements to the Level-I DOT inspection
  • Inspection for select radiological shipments
  • Radiological requirements
  • North American Standard out-of-service regulations for Transurance Waste and Highway Route Controlled Quantities for radioactive material.

Vehicle, drivers, and cargo must be defect-free before they may leave for deliveries. While en route, the Level VI out-of-service criterion is applied.

A special nuclear symbol decal has been developed for vehicles meeting the Level-VI inspection criteria. It is attached to the CMV at the point of origin of the shipment and removed at the point of destination. This nuclear symbol is only valid for only one trip.

Level VII — Jurisdictional mandated commercial vehicle inspection

The Level-VII roadside inspection includes any jurisdictional mandated inspection program that does not meet the requirements of any other inspection level.

Usually, these jurisdictionally mandated commercial vehicle inspections apply to the following:

  • School buses
  • Shared-ride transportation
  • Intrastate/intra-provincial operations
  • Hotel courtesy shuttles

Apart from CVSA-certified inspectors, the Level-VII roadside inspections can be conducted by jurisdiction-approved contractors or designated government employees.

Level-VIII — North American Standard Electronic inspection

The Level-VIII roadside inspection is conducted without direct interaction with a safety officer. It is conducted wirelessly (or electronically) while the vehicle is in motion.

To qualify as a Level-VIII roadside inspection, the data exchange must include all of the following data points:

  • A descriptive location including GPS coordinates
  • Electronic validation of the vehicle’s operator
  • Driver’s license class and endorsement for the vehicle being operated
  • License status
  • Medical Examiner’s Certificate Skill Performance Evaluation (SPE) Certificate
  • Record of Duty Status
  • Hours of Service compliance
  • USDOT number
  • Power unit registration
  • Operating authority
  • Unified Carrier Registration compliance
  • Federal out-of-service orders

Minimize roadside violations with KeepTruckin

Drivers can minimize the number of roadside violations with the help of KeepTruckin. Apart from facilitating Hours of Service compliance, KeepTruckin also helps drivers simplify vehicle inspection reports and identify vehicle maintenance issues early with real-time alerts and fault-code detection.

In June 2019, the CVSA conducted 67,072 inspections as part of the International Roadcheck program. During the 72-hour inspection event, 12,019 vehicles (17.9 percent) were removed from the road because of critical violations.

The top three vehicle-related violations were:

  1. Braking systems (28 percent)
  2. Tires and wheels (19.3 percent)
  3. Brake adjustment (17.1 percent)

KeepTruckin’s fleet management platform can help drivers and safety officers identify these potential vehicle maintenance issues early and minimize vehicle-related violations during roadside inspections.

Fault Codes - KeepTruckin Dashboard

Note: KeepTruckin also protects drivers’ privacy during roadside inspections. With the DOT Inspection Mode Access Lock feature, all the other irrelevant information in the driver’s handheld device becomes inaccessible to the safety officer. Learn more about it here.

If you have any questions about the KeepTruckin’s fleet management platform and how it can help with compliance during roadside inspections, call 844-325-9230. Our 24/7 customer support team is always available to help you.

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