For owner-operators, roadside inspections are an unavoidable fact of life. Even if you’ve gone through them a thousand times, you can still fall afoul of inspections if you don’t show care. On top of that, the laws regarding inspections change periodically, so that’s something else to remain cognizant of. Here are a few things you might not know about roadside inspections.
Roadside Inspections Can Exist at the State and Federal Level
The more familiar DOT roadside inspections aren’t the only inspections you may have to go through. Some states also have a roadside inspection program that comes with rules you must adhere to. Even some smaller geographic localities, such as counties or cities, can have rules that show up during an inspection.
You need to know the overarching federal roadside inspection rules, but you also need to make sure you understand what the states you pass through may expect during an inspection. Where a state inspection falls short of meeting the federal requirements, you will have to make sure you receive an inspection from another source that does meet FMCSA standards.
The good news is that a state inspection that meets federal criteria will allow you to receive recognition of that inspection in other states. This helps with periodic inspection programs, as your qualified state inspection can satisfy all requirements without you needing to go through another inspection as you travel.
Roadside Inspections Can Occur at Several Places
You may know about the permanent facilities along highways that conduct roadside inspections, but you may not know about other areas that can spring an inspection on you. Roadside inspections aren’t always random, and finding yourself needing to suddenly go through one can become an issue for an unprepared driver.
For example, mobile inspection sites exist and so do inspection areas at truck stops and other places. You need to make sure you can handle an inspection at any time, no matter where you’re at or where you’re going.
Roadside Inspections Can Happen in Various Ways
A roadside inspection can include a light look or a heavily detailed process. Eight levels of roadside inspections exist, but for semitruck drivers, only some of them are relevant. These levels include:
- North American Standard Inspection
- Walk-Around Driver or Vehicle Inspection
- Driver or Credential Inspection
- Special Inspection
- Vehicle-Only Inspection
- Transuranic Waste and Highway Route Controlled Quantities of Radioactive Material Inspection
- Jurisdictional Mandated Commercial Vehicle Inspection
- North American Standard Electronic Inspection
The Level 1 inspection is the most common and comprehensive of the list. Preparing for a Level 1 inspection can typically help you with any other level or type of inspection you come across. This inspection will look at your license, logs, permits, and other documents relevant to your ability to operate a semi carrying the type of load you’re carrying.
The inspector will also look at important vehicle components:
- Braking systems
- Exhaust system
- Coupling devices
- Tractor and trailer bodies
- Fuel system
- Suspension and related components
- Wheels and tires
- Cargo securement
The inspector may check other things as needed. However, having everything in order can prepare you for up to the third level of inspection types.
The Level 4 inspection only looks at a particular item or aspect of the driver or the truck. The Level 6 inspection only concerns controlled or hazardous materials and whether you’re adhering to the laws regarding moving such materials.
The Level 7 inspections have to do with making sure you’re in compliance with local regulations that pertain to commercial vehicles. Level 8 inspections aren’t as well-known because they’re relatively new. This inspection is a fully electronic one and looks at electronic data validation. Electronic validation can mean your GPS coordinates, verification of any electronic documentation, carrier information, and other data.
Roadside Inspections Can Help You Determine Which Truck to Buy
Understanding what’s expected of you during a roadside inspection can also help you make an informed decision when buying a new or used semitruck or trailer. For example, it can help to have a truck you can easily maintain and keep in good condition.
Such a truck will help when it comes to your daily safety checks and your routine upkeep schedule. Vehicles that you can keep clean and uncluttered can also help when it comes to inspections. In a similar fashion, you can choose a trailer that’s right for the type of hauls you plan to make.
As the trailer plays a strong part in roadside inspections, you can choose one that can accommodate the typical weight and dimensions of what you haul. You will also want a trailer with the highest compatibility with your tractor. Inspections do look at the couplings and whether the tractor and trailer interact smoothly with each other.
Arrow Truck Sales allows you to search for the truck or trailer you need based on your criteria. If you need a truck or trailer that can make roadside inspections a little easier to deal with, then check our inventory right now.