Guide to Roadside Inspection Levels

Roadside inspections are a way to enforce motor carrier safety laws and to help ensure an overall safe highway environment. There are six different levels of these on-the-spot safety check-ups that we define below. References to inspections can be found in Section 395.13 and Section 396.9 of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations.

North American Standard Driver/Vehicle Inspection Levels:

Level 1 – North American Standard Inspection – The most comprehensive inspection, the first level includes an examination of compliance with important parts of both driver and vehicle regulations.
Level 2 – Walk Around Driver/Vehicle Inspection – This is similar to the first level of inspections, but the inspector will not check any items that would require them to get under your vehicle.
Level 3 – Driver/Credential Inspection – This is an examination of only those documents pertaining to the driver and hazardous materials (if applicable). Your commercial driver’s license (CDL), medical certificate, logbook and hours of service, and documentation of the yearly vehicle inspection are all part of this examination.
Level 4 – Special Inspections – Usually this is a one-time examination of a particular item, which is made in support of a study or to verify or refute a suspected trend.
Level 5 – Vehicle Only Inspections – This inspection follows the vehicle portion of the level 1 inspection and may take place without the driver present. These types of inspections often take place at a carrier’s place of business during a compliance review. 
Level 6 – Enhanced NAS Inspection for Radioactive Shipments – This type follows a higher inspection standard than the North American Standard Inspection and is used only on select shipments of radioactive materials.

In 2011 there were over 3 million driver inspections and over 2 million vehicle inspections conducted in the United States. From these inspections, approximately 25% of vehicles and/or drivers were taken out of service (OOS) for violations found during the inspections. The top driver violations were log book problems, driver’s record of duty status not current and driver in possession of medical certificate. The top vehicle violations were inadequate lighting or reflective devices, tire tread depth and oil or grease leaks. 

Here are some actions you should always take that will help in the event of an on-the-spot roadside inspection.

Preparation Tips for Roadside Inspections:

  • Make a pre or post trip inspection,
  • Keep your vehicle clean
  • Check your vehicle weight
  • Roll down your window when approaching an inspection station
  • Check your vehicle documentation (inspections, registration, etc.)
  • Check your documentation (logs, medical card, driver’s license, etc.)
  • Drive courteously and obey the speed limit
  • Wear your seatbelt
  • Carrier enrollment in PrePass

Roadside inspections help make our nation’s highways safer for drivers and ultimately create a more secure environment for the goods that are transported on our roadways. Truck drivers, what experience have you had with roadside inspections? Share your thoughts on the procedures in the comments below.

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