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How to Plan for Level 2-6 DOT Inspections

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How to Plan for Level 2-6 DOT Inspections

Safety and compliance are prominent factors in the trucking industry. Trucking companies, drivers, and owner-operators are subject to a variety of safety regulations to stay on the road hauling the goods all of us need to live every day. Part of that safety and compliance is a series of inspections conducted on vehicles and drivers.

Approximately 4 million commercial motor vehicle inspections are conducted every year throughout North America to ensure safety on the roads. Inspections are performed by qualified inspectors from the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) or state police officers. Failing an inspection could result in the driver and vehicle being placed out-of-service until the specified violations, conditions, or defects are corrected. The North American Standard Out-of-Service Criteria is updated annually with an April 1 effective date each year.

The Level 1 DOT Inspection is without a doubt the most thorough of all the inspections. It’s also usually a part of the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) International Roadcheck, an inspection blitz that happens every year. But in this article, let’s focus on the next five DOT inspections, which are levels 2-6. Below find explanations of each DOT inspection along with checklists to help you prepare yourself and your vehicle.

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Level 2 DOT Inspection: Walk-Around

The Level 2 DOT Inspection is like the Level 1 North American Standard Inspection with one key difference – no getting under the vehicle. In other words, the Level 2 inspection only checks items that do not require physically getting under the vehicle to determine proper function. That means both driver and vehicle-related areas will be examined. Here’s a checklist for drivers:

  • Medical examiner certificate
  • Hours of service (HOS) compliance
  • Seat belt usage; alcohol and drug usage
  • Driver record of duty status (RODs)

And here’s a checklist for vehicles:

  • Cargo securement
  • Lighting and coupling devices
  • Suspensions
  • Tires; steering mechanisms

  • Wheels, rims, and hubs
  • Brake, exhaust, and fuel systems
  • Emergency exits; seating
  • Driveline/driveshaft; frames
  • Level 3 DOT Inspection: Driver Only

    Only driver-related items are verified here, hence the name of the inspection. Here’s a checklist of what inspectors are looking for:

    • Driver license; carrier identification and status
    • Medical Examiner’s and Skill Performance Evaluation (SPE) certificates
    • Record of duty status; hours of service (HOS)
    • Seat belt; vehicle inspection report
    truck driver

    Level 4 DOT Inspection: Special Study

    This one is indeed a special inspection because it is a one-time examination that focuses on one specific item. The purpose here is to gather information for a vehicle study or to affirm or refute a suspected trend in vehicles.

    Level 5 DOT Inspection: Terminal or Vehicle-Only

    Driver need not be present. Here inspectors are running through a complete check of all the items in the Level 1 North American Standard Inspection but without the vehicle’s driver on hand. So, this could be conducted at pretty much any location. Here’s a checklist of vehicle-related items to be checked:

    • Suspension, tire, rim, hub, and wheel assemblies
    • Open-top trailer and van bodies
    • Windshield wipers; frames; cargo securement
    • Steering mechanisms; driveline/driveshaft
    • Lighting, braking, electrical, exhaust, and fuel systems
    • Coupling devices; battery compartments
    • Emergency exits, seating, and electrical cables
    • Hazardous material and cargo tank compliance

    Level 6 DOT Inspection: Radioactive Materials

    The official title of this one is NAS (North American Standard) Inspection for Transuranic Waste and HRCQ (Highway Route Controlled Quantities) of Radioactive Material. The inspection involves checking for specific radiological shipments, and includes this checklist:

    • Enhancements to the Level 1 DOT inspection
    • Inspection for select radiological shipments
    • Radiological requirements
    • North American Standard out-of-service regulations for Transuranic Waste and Highway Route Controlled Quantities for radioactive material

    Keeping your truck in inspection-ready condition is part of staying compliant, which leads to trucking company success. Hauling lucrative loads and getting paid fast for your hard work is also integral to trucking company success. Apex factoring can get you paid in minutes so that your cash keeps flowing and your business keeps growing. We are ready to help you! Visit our website or call us at 855-369-2739.