Federal DOT Inspection: What’s Involved?

DOT inspections are required for all CMVs (commercial motor vehicles) weighing over 10,000 pounds. The Department of Transportation must complete this type of inspection to ensure that the CMV is safe to operate.

This guide will introduce you to what’s involved in a federal DOT inspection. Inspections are categorized into six levels.

Level 1- North American Standard Inspection

This level of inspection will include a review of the driver’s documents as well as a search for drugs, alcohol or anything hazardous. Items that will be reviewed include:

  • Driver’s license
  • Daily driving log with hours of service
  • Vehicle inspection reports
  • Medical cards
  • Hazmat requirements

All major components of the vehicle will also be inspected for safety.

Level 2- Walk Around Inspection

Although this type of inspection is very similar to the one listed above, except that the inspector will not go under the vehicle.

Level 3- Driver Only Inspection

During a driver only inspection, only the elements directly relating to the driver will be evaluated. This includes:

  • License
  • Medical info
  • Driver log
  • Seatbelts
  • Reports
  • Incident history
  • Hazmat

Level 4- Special Inspections

A special inspection is a one-time only inspection done to get a closer look at some specific feature of the vehicle. This is usually conducted if a claim has been made about the vehicle. The inspection will often be used to refute the claim.

Level 5- Vehicle Only

A level 5 inspection is identical to a level 1, except the driver need not be present.

Level 6- Enhanced NAS Inspection for Radioactive Shipments

Any CMV transporting radioactive material must undergo a level 6 inspection. This inspection will include:

  • Inspection of shipment
  • Inspection of procedure
  • Inspection for level 1 points
  • Radiological requirements
  • Out-of-service rules

How To Prepare for Your Inspection

Regardless of which type of inspection you will have, it is important that you prepare ahead of time. You should self-educate on how to spot problems and safety hazards yourself first. This way, you can be proactive in dealing with these issues. Getting into the habit of this will help to prevent any serious safety issues from developing and getting worse over time. Items to check would include:

  • Tires
  • Lights
  • Cracks

When you do find a safety issue, it is best to deal with it immediately. It can be tempting to put off maintenance or repairs. Some issues, however, do grow worse over time if left.

Remember, DOT inspections are an important part of your ability to operate a CMV and earn an income. This part of your job should not be taken lightly.

If you are unsure of your inspection requirements for your particular type of vehicle or industry, it is a good idea to do some research on your own so that you can be properly educated on these topics.

This quick guide is just a starting point of what to know before a Federal DOT inspection.