The FMCSA and state authorities determine driver and motor carrier compliance with regulations primarily through roadside inspections. Several events can lead to a roadside inspection, including:

  1. Observable defects
  2. Speeding
  3. Random inspection

One of six levels of Roadside Inspections may be performed at the discretion of the inspector, and the different defects found may depend on the level of inspection performed. The six levels of Roadside Inspections are:

  • Level I — North American Standard: the most comprehensive of the inspections, which includes elements of both driver and vehicle regulations
  • Level II — Walk Around Driver/Vehicle Inspection: similar to the Level I, but not as comprehensive
  • Level III — Driver/Credential Inspections: an examination of only those documents pertaining to the driver and hazardous materials
  • Level IV — Special Inspection: a one-time examination of a particular item, made in support of a study or to verify or refute a suspected trend
  • Level V — Vehicle-Only Inspection: may take place without the driver present, and includes all the vehicle components inspected under the Level I inspection
  • Level VI — Enhanced NAS Inspection for Radioactive Shipment: higher standard than Level I, but only used on select shipments of radioactive material

More information on the six inspection levels can be found on the U.S. DOT FMCSA web site.

What to do during an inspection
Posted 2/4/16

Many measures can be taken to reduce the likelihood of inspection and help ensure a smooth process for both law enforcement and driver should an inspection occur. The FMCSA recommends conducting a thorough pre-trip inspection before each trip, including:

  • Conducting vehicle overview
  • Starting engine and inspecting inside of cab
  • Turning off engine and checking lights
  • Performing a walk-around inspection
  • Checking signal lights
  • Starting engine and checking brake system

The FMCSA provides additional information on what to do during an inspection.