Roadside Inspections & What YOU Need to Know

Roadside inspections can be brutal. This will help you know the facts!

This month we will be talking about the different levels of vehicle inspection that are conducted at Ports Of Entry (POE) or roadside inspection stations. We will also discuss what the officer will be looking for in brief detail and how you as a driver can help make the inspection go great.

Does your heart sink a little when you see the Port Open sign or when you drive up on a typical site where officers set up roadside inspection stations and see flashing lights. We have been there before too, but we are here to help relieve that stress, and get you excited to go through those POE’s. I know that you might be thinking that we full of it right now, but I can promise that you will better understand the process and know some of the tricks that will help you get through that inspection with no violations.

This all starts with your daily inspection. Your inspection can alleviate all of your stress when it comes to a POE. Take the time to conduct a through inspection every day. It really does pay off.

There are 8 levels of inspection that you might draw at a POE. And there are several key items that determine whether you are selected for an inspection. Lets start with the different levels of inspections and what to expect.

Level VIII

North American Standard Electronic Inspection. The North American Standard Level VIII Electronic Inspection is an inspection conducted electronically or wirelessly while the vehicle is in motion without direct interaction with an enforcement officer. This inspection includes, a descriptive location, including GPS coordinates; electronic validation of who is operating the vehicle; appropriate driver’s license class and endorsement(s) for vehicle being operated; license status; valid Medical Examiner’s Certificate and Skill

Performance Evaluation (SPE) Certificate

Current driver’s record of duty status; hours-of-service; power unit registration; operating authority; Unified Carrier Registration (UCR) compliance; and federal out-of-service orders.

Level VII

Jurisdictional Mandated Commercial Vehicle Inspection. This is a jurisdictional mandated inspection program that does not meet the requirements of any other level of inspection. An example will include inspection programs such as, but not limited to, school buses, limousines, taxis, shared-ride transportation, hotel courtesy shuttles and other intrastate/intra-provincial operations. These inspections may be conducted by CVSA-certified inspectors, other designated government employees or jurisdiction-approved contractors.

Level VI

North American Standard Inspection for Transuranic Waste and Highway Route Controlled Quantities (HRCQ) of Radioactive Material. This is an inspection for select radiological shipments, that include everything listed in a Level I Inspection, radiological requirements and the North American Standard Out-of-Service Criteria for Transuranic Waste and Highway Route Controlled Quantities of Radioactive material are also included in this inspection. As of Jan. 1, 2005, all vehicles and carriers transporting HRCQ of radioactive material are regulated by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) are required to pass the North American Standard Level VI Inspection. Select radiological shipments include HRCQ of radioactive material as defined by Title 49 CFR 173.403. And, because only a small fraction of transuranics are HRCQ, the U.S. DOE decided to include its transuranic waste shipments in the North American Standard Level VI Inspection Program.

Level V

Vehicle-Only Inspection. Is an inspection that includes each of the vehicle inspection items specified under the North American Standard Inspection (Level I), without a driver present, conducted at any location. This inspection I utilized during an audit.

 Level IV

Special Inspections. Level IV inspections typically include a one-time examination of a particular item. These examinations are normally made in support of a study or to verify or refute a suspected trend. The reason an officer would use this inspection would be if the company has had several violations on the same items on different vehicles. A good example would be break-a-way brakes.

These next 3 levels of inspections are the most common types seen!

Level III

Driver/Credential/Administrative Inspection. Level III Inspections must include, examination of the driver’s license; Medical Examiner’s Certificate; driver’s record of duty status; hours of service; seat belt; vehicle inspection report; and carrier identification and status. NOTE: Mechanical equipment violations specific to a Level I or Level II Inspection should not be included in a Level III Inspection. If applicable, traffic violations/infractions should be included on a Level III Inspection. Many times drivers will go through a Level III inspection and never get paperwork. As a driver you should always ask for the documentation to prove that you had “No Violations” this will help your company and you as a driver.

Level II

Walk-Around Driver/Vehicle Inspection. Level II Inspections must include everything listed in a Level III inspection plus: brake systems; cargo securement; coupling devices; driveline/driveshaft; exhaust systems; frames; fuel systems; lighting devices (headlamps, tail lamps, stop lamps, turn signals and lamps/flags on projecting loads); steering mechanisms; suspensions; tires; van and open-top trailer bodies; wheels, rims and hubs; windshield wipers. For buses, motorcoaches, passenger vans or other passenger-carrying vehicles emergency exits, electrical cables and systems in engine and battery compartments, seating will also be inspected. The walk-around driver/vehicle inspection will include only those items that can be inspected without physically getting under the vehicle.

Level I

North American Standard Inspection. The Level I inspection includes all of the items listed in Level III as well as what was listed in a Level II inspection plus the officer will be going under your vehicle to perform a through inspection of the vehicle. You can expect this inspection to take anywhere from 30min to 1.5 hours.

If you’re the lucky one to be chosen, you will be greeted by an inspector who will take you into your own lane. You will have to turn the truck off and in some cases, remove the key from ignition. Wheels chocked, brakes released, and hand over your electronic log device. This begins level 1 of the inspection. One of the most important things, is to be organized. This will not only help the inspector, but it can also help speed up the process. A couple tips to move it long, know your dashboard, know where your controls are. Know how to work your electronic log, you will need to access it and be able to email your logs. Organizing your permits will also help to save time.

If you have pets, you need a plan. Pets have to be secured before the inspection can begin.
* Driver’s license
* Electronic log
* Truck and trailer registration
* Insurance
* IFTA Card (International Fuel Tax Agreement)
* Permits
* Bill of landing, shipping papers or invoices
* USDOT Hazmat permit
* FMCSA Safety Permit (high risk loads)
* Special Permit (hazmat materials)
* State Hazmat Permit
* Emergency Response Information or MSDS
* Written Route Plan (hazardous materials)
* Copy of FMCSR Regulations
* Oversize Load Permits

The best outcome every driver hopes for is No Violations!

All Violations can still warrant a ticket. An example of this type would be an error in the form and manner on the electronic log, or as simple as a clearance light. Sometimes these violations can be “forgiven” and no ticket is issued, but remember that any violation that is issues will stick with you as a driver for 7 years and the company will feel the pain for the next 2 years.

Out of service (OOS)

This violation is one of the federal regulations listed by the CVSA. It must be listed in the criteria or it falls under non-out of service violations. You will get a ticket whether you own the truck or you drive for a company. It is important to listen to the officer because every state is different.
Even though violations my not come with a citation, every violation still counts against you and the company.

With the trucks, typical violations include

  • Brake problems such as out of adjustment
  • Tires
  • Load securement
  • Lights
  • Oil leaking
  • Windshield damage and obstruction
  • No proof of annual inspection
  • Hazmat loads
  • Improper placards,
  • Improper marketing
  • Expired permits
  • No permit
  • Violations with shipping papers

We’ve all failed a road side inspection in the past but that’s not going to stop us from driving. So let’s wipe away those tears and pull up our big girl panties and keep on trucking.

There’s a few things that you really need to know about passing a road side inspection. I know what you’re thinking, “Everyone has an article on this.” We are going to let you in on some of our secrets that not everyone knows.

First off ATTITUDE is everything!

If you get pulled into a weigh station or road side inspection area, don’t get stressed. Go ahead and put on your “Yes Sir / Yes Ma’am” hat and get that inspection started. Officers are just like everyone trying to make a living and support their families. So let’s quickly shed the “they don’t like me attitude” and show them some respect. In turn they will respect you. It sounds crazy but start the inspection off by seeming somewhat excited for the opportunity to get inspected. In a lot of the companies we have helped we have initiated an incentive plan for No violation inspections. In all out honesty the drivers for those companies are truly excited for the opportunity to get an incentive. When the officer finds an issue don’t argue, or banter with them. Simply say “Yes Sir”, fix the issue and move on. Don’t forget to take pictures of all violations. There’s a few things that this does to help both the driver and the company. First off if the violations are bogus you now have picture proof. There’s not much better evidence than a picture.

A lot of enforcement officers will ask the driver for their credentials and the paperwork for the unit. If there are no issues, there be sure to ask them for your level 3 inspection paperwork. This not only helps the company but also helps the officers with any MCSAP funding their department might be receiving.

Before you ever get to the inspection take the time to invite the surrounding law enforcement agencies to your yard and have a conference with your employees. I know there’s a couple of guys out there right now reading this saying “No way, this guy’s crazy for even suggesting that I invite the cops into my yard!” Again we are going to say that law enforcement officers are just people trying to do their job. As soon as we change that mind set we will be so much better off as drivers and company leaders. By inviting them into your yard it shows your hand (or at least the cards you want them to see). While they are there asking them to provide some feedback from what they’ve seen in the field lately. Listen to everything they have to say. You’ll probably see a trend in violations. As a company you should start targeting those violation trends in your own fleet. Also provide the officers with the vital information that you offer incentives for no violation inspections. They will ask the drivers about this at the roadside inspection, so don’t lie. One of the most important things this does is it starts the relationship between your company / drivers and local law enforcement. Who knows you might even be on a first name basis in the very near future.

Ecourage your Drivers

The last action item we’d like to mention is encourage your drivers daily to make smart choices. Encourage them to be a step above the rest of the drivers in the industry. Make every employee of your company feel as though they play a vital role in the companies wellbeing. Because let’s face it without all of our employees we would be nothing more than an one person show working our butts into the ground for a dollar.

If you start following these few short objectives your drivers might start looking forward to going through the port of entry, and maybe even a little disappointed when its closed. Your DOT scores will rapidly improve, you’ve built a relationship with people who enforce the regulations, and added to the foundation of your company.

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