The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) takes the lead on ensuring that all commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) are safe by performing regular inspections. Their team checks all parts to make sure everything works correctly and safely. Most truck drivers are familiar with Fleet DOT inspections, but do you understand the details with each inspection level? What about the most common DOT violations to avoid?
Each state oversees its own DOT inspections, usually conducted by state groups in collaboration:
This is the most common and the most thorough inspection. The inspecting officer looks at the tractor and the trailer, including:
They also talk to the driver and look for signs of:
Any violations may result in a driver being taken out of commission for driving.
This level is not as rigorous as the first level inspection. An officer will not go underneath the truck but checks everything else.
There is no vehicle inspection. Instead, the officer checks the following records and documentation:
This particular inspection is rare. Officers usually complete a single-item inspection as a type of research.
This is the counterpart to a driver-only inspection. This inspection happens at a carrier during compliance reviews and the driver is not present for the inspection.
If a driver is hauling dangerous or hazardous freight, this inspection looks at conditions that are unique to these shipments. Drivers must meet specific handling procedures and advanced OOS conditions.
A state trooper can perform an inspection anytime, anywhere. They may occur on the side of the road, at weigh stations, or at truck stops. Drivers are expected to act professionally and respectfully, understanding that law requires these inspections.
Finding no violations is the most desired outcome. If a driver doesn’t have violations, they receive a CVSA decal that is good for three months. This lets other inspecting officers know that a CMV passed inspection recently.
Some violations are not serious. The driver can still perform their job, but they do not pass inspection and are expected to fix any violations within 15 days. These may also count against Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) scores for both the driver and the carrier.
If a driver receives an OOS violation, they cannot drive again until all violations are addressed and documented properly. The most common OOS violations include: