How to Pass DOT Truck Inspections

The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) is responsible for setting safety regulations on all major forms of transportation, including commercial motor vehicles (CMVs). The DOT requires that all CMV operators be in compliance with these regulations to ensure the safety of drivers, passengers, and others on the road.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) enforces DOT regulations, including hours of service regulations, driver physical qualification standards, ELD guidance, and more. This is often done through DOT inspections, which are checks carried out by state troopers or enforcers under the authority of the FMCSA.

Tips to Pass DOT Inspection

The DOT requires that CMV operators maintain accurate records of their drivers and vehicles. These records are used to verify compliance with DOT regulations and to identify driver misconduct.

Since the Electronic Logging Device (ELD) rule was published by the FMCSA in December 2015, drivers must keep an electronic log of the time they spend driving, also known as their Hours of Service (HOS). More generally, it covers records of duty status (RODS) data.

The ELD is a device that logs metrics like the time spent driving, idling, and off-duty time for each driver in a fleet. The ELD can also track vehicle use, including whether the vehicle was driven on public roads or used for other purposes.

GPSTrackit’s ELD solutions are a great way to prepare for roadside DOT inspections. Our simple interface generates accurate, compliant reports designed to help you pass inspections. Drivers can also take steps to improve their chances of passing DOT inspections. Some of the most important include:

  • Maintain a clean driving record
  • Follow all HOS rules
  • Avoid distractions
  • Report unsafe behavior
  • Keep vehicles maintained

A clean driving record is essential for maintaining a good safety rating. Drivers should avoid any activity that could result in a violation, including speeding, hard braking, and hard turns.

Drivers must also follow all HOS rules and regulations, and ensure that they are not driving while fatigued or under the influence of alcohol or drugs. This helps drivers avoid being cited for violations such as exceeding the maximum allowable hours of service (HOS).

Further, distractions such as eating, smoking, talking on the phone, and texting are prohibited while driving. These activities can lead to unsafe driving which can result in accidents and violations.

If drivers witness another driver engaging in unsafe behavior such as speeding or aggressive driving, they should report it immediately to their supervisor or fleet manager so appropriate action can be taken. This will help prevent future incidents and keep fleets safe on the road.

Finally, vehicles should be kept clean inside and out to reduce the risk of contamination during an inspection. The FMCSA requires that vehicles be free from hazardous materials like gasoline, oil, grease, and so on. Fleets should also make sure that all lights are working properly at all times so that CMVs are visible at nighttime inspections.

What Are the DOT Inspection Levels?

There are six levels of DOT inspections that CMV operators can expect to encounter. These various inspections help to keep our roadways safe and ensure that trucks meet regulatory standards. Let’s look at each of the six DOT inspection levels.

Level 1 – North American Standard Inspection

Level 1 inspections are the most comprehensive and thorough of all DOT inspections. They include a thorough examination of the driver’s qualifications and documentation, as well as a detailed examination of the vehicle itself. 

Level 1 inspections include things like checking the driver’s license, daily log and Hours of Service, seatbelt, brake systems, coupling devices, fuel system, and more,

Level 2 – Walk-Around Driver/Vehicle Inspection

A Level 2 inspection is similar to a Level 1 inspection, but it only includes an examination of items that can be checked without physically getting under the vehicle. That means, of course, that a Level 2 inspection is less exhaustive than a Level 1 inspection, but it’s still important to keep your vehicles and documents in order.

Level 3 – Driver-Only Inspection

Unlike a Level 1 or Level 2 inspection, a Level 3 inspection is limited to the driver’s credentials, instead of also inspecting the vehicle. This includes reviewing information like the Record of Duty Status, license, Vehicle Inspection Report, HOS documentation, and Skill Performance Evaluation (SPE) certificate.

Level 4 – Special Inspections

Special inspections are one-time examinations of particular vehicle features. The DOT typically carries these out for research purposes, such as tracking improvement over time on common violations.

Level 5 – Vehicle-Only Inspection

A Level 5 inspection is similar to a North American Standard (NAS) inspection, but it only includes an examination of the CMV itself. The vehicle will be examined from top to bottom during this type of inspection.

Because this inspection doesn’t include the driver, it’s typically carried out after a medical incident or arrest, when the driver is away from the vehicle.

Level 6 – Enhanced NAS Inspection for Radioactive Shipments

The Enhanced NAS inspection was created for commercial motor vehicles transporting radioactive materials. The new inspection process is more thorough than the North American Standard inspection and includes additional requirements for documentation and record-keeping.

Are you ready to learn more? Talk to a Fleet Advisor today.

How Long Does It Take for Drivers to Pass Their DOT Inspections?

DOT inspections generally take less than an hour to complete. The inspector will go through the vehicle with a fine-tooth comb, checking for defects and violations.

Unexpected DOT inspections can be a serious problem for drivers who are not familiar with their vehicles or who have been driving on an irregular schedule without adequate rest. Drivers should plan to spend some time inspecting each vehicle before they leave for work in the morning.

Drivers should also take some time after their arrivals to inspect their vehicle. They shouldn’t forget that DOT inspections are not just about safety, but also about cleanliness and appearance. Drivers must make sure that everything is in good working order and that they don’t have any maintenance needs before retiring for the day.

A driver who knows how to maintain his or her vehicle will be less likely to get caught off-guard by an unexpected inspection.

What Are Common DOT Violations?

Some of the most common violations that DOT inspectors look for are speeding, following too closely, hard braking and acceleration, cell phone usage, and failing to maintain equipment. These are just a few of the violations that DOT inspectors are looking for.

If you are found speeding, your driver’s license could be at risk. In fact, CMV drivers will lose their license for at least 60 days if they receive two speeding tickets within a three-year period.

Following too closely is another violation that DOT inspectors look for. This can be dangerous, especially as trucks have long stopping distances, which means that following too closely can result in a rear-end collision.

Hard braking and acceleration are two more violations that DOT inspectors look for. Hard braking means applying the brakes heavily while hard accelerating means speeding up too quickly. Both of these actions often increase the likelihood of an accident occurring during the operation of your commercial motor vehicle.

Lastly, some common DOT violations that inspectors look for are failing to maintain equipment and failing to maintain proper documentation. Failing to maintain equipment means not keeping your commercial motor vehicle in good working condition at all times. This includes things like brakes and tires that need regular maintenance as well as other mechanical parts of the vehicle that should be checked regularly by the driver or mechanic assigned to the vehicle. 

Failing to maintain proper documentation involves not having proper documents on hand, such as your commercial driver’s license. These documents are required to be kept on the vehicle at all times.

How Can GPSTrackit Help?

GPSTrackit is here to help CMV fleets and truck drivers with their DOT compliance. Our state-of-the-art fleet management system includes a robust set of features that will help fleets comply with all DOT regulations, including ELD requirements. With our cutting-edge technology, you can monitor your drivers’ HOS status, run reports on driver behavior, and much more. 

If you’d like to learn more about how GPS Trackit can help to improve safety, increase productivity and reduce costs for your business, speak with one of our knowledgeable Fleet Advisors or get a quick Custom Quote.

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