DOT Inspection

A DOT inspection ensures trucking equipment and drivers meet the Department of Transportation standards. Owners and operators should know the types and requirements of these inspections to maintain compliance.

Types of DOT Inspections

  1. Level I—North American Standard Inspection: The most thorough, including a review of documents, driver, and vehicle examination. Inspectors check for medical cards, hours of service, and logbooks.
  2. Level II—Walk-Around Driver/Vehicle Inspection: This is less comprehensive than Level I. It involves a walk-around check of the vehicle and driver documentation.
  3. Level III—Driver-Only Inspection: This inspection focuses on driver credentials. Inspectors review the driver’s license, Medical Certificate, Skill Performance Evaluation (SPE) Certificate for certain drivers, and record of duty status.
  4. Level IV—Special Inspections: Conducted to validate a specific issue or study. They can be more focused and usually involve research.
  5. Level V—Vehicle-Only Inspection: This is done without the driver present. It’s similar to Level I but excludes driver-related checks.
  6. Level VI—Enhanced NAS Inspection for Radioactive Shipments: This protocol applies to hazardous radioactive materials and follows a stringent schedule that covers safety, vehicle disablement, and more comprehensive documentation.

Key Components Checked

  1. Brakes: Inspectors check for air pressure, brake pads, and linings and ensure the anti-lock braking system is functioning.
  2. Lights: Functionality of headlights, taillights, brake lights, turn signals, and hazard lights.
  3. Steering and Suspension: Proper functioning of steering mechanisms and suspension systems.
  4. Tires: Inspection includes tread depth, presence of cuts, or other damage. Tire pressure levels are verified.
  5. Windshield Wipers: Assess condition and operation. Adequate fluid levels are also checked.
  6. Emergency Equipment: Adequate fire extinguishers, reflective triangles, first aid kits, and emergency flares.
  7. Cargo Securement: Proper load securing methods are checked to ensure safety during transit.
  1. Regular Maintenance: Adhering to a strict maintenance schedule mitigates the risk of failed inspections. Address mechanical issues swiftly.
  2. Documentation: Keep all necessary documents organized and readily accessible. This includes medical cards, driver’s licenses, vehicle registration, and insurance documents.