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Legal Blog

How are Commercial Vehicles Inspected?

The Department of Transportation (DOT) requires that all commercial motor vehicles (CMV) weighing more than 10,000 pounds are to receive a yearly inspection. These commercial vehicle inspections are enforced in order to ensure that all of the parts and accessories of these vehicles are safe and in proper working condition.

With over four decades of legal experience, The Krist Law Firm, P.C. understands the pain and devastation you may be experiencing in the wake of being involved in a trucking accident. We’re here to provide you with the legal support and strong advocacy you need in order to obtain any compensation you deserve.

Call us today at (281) 283-8500, or use our online form to schedule a free case consultation with a skilled Houston truck accident attorney.

DOT Inspections

The Department of Transportation authorizes six levels of commercial vehicle inspections. These inspections may be performed at any location by a qualified DOT inspector or state police officer. The following list outlines these levels of inspection protocol, including the methods used in the inspection process.

Level I: North American Standard Inspection

At a Level I inspection, the authorized inspector carefully evaluates the driver’s documents and also searches for alcohol, drugs, or hazardous materials carried within the vehicle. Some of the items in these commercial vehicle inspections include:

  • Driver’s license
  • Driver and Vehicle Inspection Report
  • Driver’s daily log and hours of service
  • Medical card and waiver
  • Drugs and/or alcohol
  • Hazardous material requirements

The various parts and accessories evaluated during Level I DOT inspections include:

  • Brakes
  • Seat belt
  • Exhaust system
  • Brake lamps
  • Frame
  • Coupling devices
  • Headlamps
  • Electrical systems and cables in engine, battery compartments (buses), and/or emergency exits
  • Steering mechanism
  • Fuel system
  • Safe loading
  • Lamps on projecting loads
  • Suspension
  • Securement of cargo
  • Tires
  • Stop Lamps
  • Turn signals
  • Tail lamps
  • Windshield wipers
  • Trailer bodies
  • Rims, wheels, and hubcaps

Level II: Walk-Around Driver/Vehicle Inspection

Virtually identical to a Level I evaluation, a Level II inspection does not involve the inspector checking parts or accessories that require physically positioning oneself underneath the commercial motor vehicle. It is essentially a section of the inspection that involves the approved inspector walking around the vehicle and checking it out for any flaws or concerning details.

Level III: Driver-Only Inspection

A Level III inspection includes a comprehensive check of the driver’s credentials. These credentials and other items to be checked include:

  • Driver’s License
  • RODS
  • Medical card and waiver
  • Vehicle Inspection Report
  • Endorsements
  • HM/DG requirements
  • HAZMAT requirements
  • HOS documentation
  • Skill Performance Evaluation (SPE) Certificate
  • Possible use of alcohol and/or drugs
  • Seat belt usage

Level IV: Special Inspection

As a one-time examination, a Level IV special inspection is conducted to look more closely at a specific feature of the commercial vehicle. Most often these DOT inspections are performed in order to nullify a previous claim about a vehicle. This is done in order to refute or support a study or possible trend.

Level V: Vehicle-Only Inspection

This inspection authorized by the DOT covers a complete check of the vehicle. It includes everything performed in a Level I inspection. These vehicle-only DOT inspections are to be conducted without the presence of the driver, and cover the following:

  • Tires, suspensions, and wheel assemblies
  • Fuel and brake and systems
  • Exhaust systems
  • Steering mechanism
  • Lighting devices
  • Electrical cables and systems in battery and engine compartments
  • Cargo securement
  • Van and open-top trailer bodies
  • Coupling devices
  • Emergency exits
  • Temporary or loose seating on buses
  • Windshield wipers

Level VI: Enhanced NAS Inspection for Radioactive Shipments

A Level VI North American Standard inspection is required for all commercial vehicles transporting highway route controlled quantities (HRCQ) of radioactive material. It is referred to as the North American Standard (NAS) Inspection for Transuranic Waste and HRCQ. Checking for radioactive shipments at this level includes evaluating:

  • Inspection procedures
  • Inspecting for radioactive shipments
  • Radiological requirements
  • Enhancements to level I
  • Enhanced out-of-service criteria

Before departing for deliveries, the driver, vehicle, and its cargo must be free of defects under a Level VI inspection, with the inspection criteria also applicable while on the road.

Vehicles that meet the Level VI criteria for commercial vehicle inspections are to have a special nuclear symbol decal attached to the commercial motor vehicle at the point of the shipment’s origin and removed at its destination point. The symbol is only usable for one trip.

Contact an Experienced Houston Trucking Accident Attorney

At The Krist Law Firm, P.C., our skilled team of personal injury attorneys will aggressively pursue your right to compensation in the wake of your trucking accident injury. Allow us to fight on your behalf.

Call us today at (281) 283-8500, or contact us online for a free case evaluation.