Many truck drivers dread pulling over for level 1 DOT inspection. That’s because it’s the most thorough, comprehensive, and expected level of all DOT inspections. However, it’s primarily unavoidable in the truck driver’s job. But you can make this inspection quick, easy, and successful with some preparation.
The Department of Transportation (DOT) performs this inspection to ensure heavy-duty or commercial motor vehicles are safe for road use. While many heavy-duty vehicle drivers and truck business owners stress about DOT inspections, adequate preparations can make them more manageable. This article explains DOT level 1 inspection and how to prepare for it.
What is a DOT Inspection?
A DOT inspection is a test that checks a commercial motor vehicle to determine whether it is in proper working condition. The Department of Transportation’s inspectors, enforcers, or state troopers performs surprise inspections under the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s authority.
The DOT performs numerous inspections as a preventative measure for ensuring the safety of truckers and motorists on the road. Primarily, these inspections ensure commercial vehicles comply with road regulations and rules to prevent accidents.
The DOT conducts these inspections with the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).
Passing DOT inspections requires adequate preparation. And this means keeping your heavy-duty vehicle in proper condition and complying with DOT regulations.
What is a Level 1 DOT Inspection?
The level 1 inspection is also known as the North American Standard Inspection. It’s a comprehensive DOT inspection of the vehicle and the truck driver. This assessment involves a near-total review of the truck, licenses, paperwork, and related truck driving items. This inspection level differs from the others because they primarily focus on one part of operating a heavy-duty vehicle.
Level 1 inspection is annual, and it is required to ensure a truck remains safe on the road. Here’s what level 1 inspection DOT officer checks during the procedure:
- Documentation: The DOT inspector will check the driver’s daily logs and hours of service documentation. Also, they will review similar paperwork alongside the driver.
- Driver’s credentials: This procedure also involves checking the driver’s license, medical examiner’s certificate, and other relevant licenses.
- Safety features: The DOT inspector will check the truck’s safety systems, including seatbelts, brakes, airbags, and turn signals. Also, they will assess other features that make the vehicle safe to operate on the road.
- Driver’s habit: This inspection entails reviewing the driver’s practices, like loading and unloading procedures, seatbelt use, and safety behaviors. The DOT officer will also review the driver’s alcohol abuse or smoking habits.
- Truck systems: The DOT inspector will also check the truck’s engine, steering system, exhaust system, and tires.
A level 1 inspection thoroughly reviews the truck, driver, and related documents and systems. While it may seem intimidating, you can simplify it with adequate preparation.
DOT Level 1 Inspection Checklist
Preparing for this inspection requires knowledge of the involved steps. And you can get your DOT level 1 inspection checklist PDF document to help you prepare. Here’s the DOT inspector’s checklist to help you prepare for this inspection.
- Safe inspection site selection
- Approaching the vehicle
- Greeting the driver
- Interviewing the driver briefly
- Collecting the driver’s documents
- Checking the truck for dangerous goods or hazardous materials
- Identify the truck’s carrier
- Examining the driver’s license
- Checking the driver’s skill and medical certificates where possible
- Checking the truck operator’s record of duty status
- Reviewing the operator’s daily vehicle inspection report
- Reviewing the vehicle’s periodic inspection reports
- Preparing the operator for a vehicle inspection
- Examining the front of the vehicle
- Investigating the left front side of the vehicle
- Exploring the left saddle tank part
- Examining the trailer front
- Checking the left rear part
- Evaluating the trailer’s left side
- Assessing wheels on the right rear trailer
- Reviewing the trailer’s back part
- Analyzing the double or triple trailers
- Evaluating the trailer wheels on the right back part
- Checking the trailer’s right sighed part
- Studying the tractor’s right rear area
- Scanning the right saddle tank part
- Checking the tractor’s right front side
- Assessing the steering axle
- Examining axles one and three
- Examining axles four and five
- Assessing the brake adjustment
- Checking the protection system
- Checking the warning devices for the brake system
- Testing the air loss rate
- Examining the steering wheel lash
- Assessing the filth wheel movement
- Finalizing the inspection and informing the driver about violations
DOT Truck Inspection Requirements
The DOT official will require you to present several documents during a level 1 inspection. They include the following:
- The driver credentials’ verification
- A valid license
- Motor carrier identification
- Record checks, including periodic inspection and duty status reports
- A medical examiner’s certificate
- Skill performance evaluation certificate
- Daily vehicle inspection report
How to Prepare for Level 1 DOT Inspection
Once you know what DOT level 1 inspection is, what it involves, and the requirements, prepare for it. Pre-trip preparation is the most effective way to comply with DOT regulations and avoid violations. Here’s how to prepare for this DOT inspection:
Check whether your truck has something out of place or faulty. For instance, check the doors, mirror brackets, steps, weather stripping, and windows to ensure they are in proper working condition.
Assess all lights, including headlights and lenses, to ensure they are free of cracks or fog.
Check the radiator, water pump, power steering pump, and air compressor pump to ensure they are free of cracks, damage, or loose elements.
Asses the air pressure to ensure the correct psi. Also, ensure the tires are free from cuts, nails, abrasions, and bumps. They should also have adequate tread.
Check the brake drums and pads to ensure they are free from cracks, damage, and loose components. Also, test the truck’s brakes by pushing the brake knobs in prior testing. Additionally, perform a static brake test, low-pressure warning signal test, applied pressure test, and check the emergency valves.
Examine the truck’s mirrors, windshield, defroster, hazard signals, wipers, gauges, and turn signals to ensure they work correctly.
Assess the engine to ensure it’s working correctly by revving it. Also, test the horns.