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What are the various levels of roadside inspections for trucks?

It is not uncommon for drivers in Massachusetts to encounter large trucks on the roadways, and for some drivers there might be concerns when traveling next to and behind trucks, such as semi-trucks or tractor-trailer trucks. Because of the possibility of driver negligence or violations by trucking companies, federal trucking regulations have been implemented. One way to ensure compliance with these regulations is through roadside inspections.

What are the various levels of roadside inspections for trucks? There are six different levels of inspections a driver of a commercial motor vehicle could encounter. The most common and most comprehensive inspection would be the Level I inspection, which includes a detailed inspection of both the vehicle and the truck driver. This entails an inspection that examines the diver's license, medical examiner's certificate, the driver's record of duty status, driving logs and specific vehicle details, such as the vehicle inspection report, brake system, tires, seat belts and other important safety and mechanical components.

A Level II inspection is considered a walk-around inspection of both the driver and the vehicle. This includes everything in a Level I inspection as well as a walk-around inspection that includes examining everything that could be inspected without having to physically get under the vehicle. For a Level III inspection, only the driver is inspected. This is essentially a Level I inspection without the vehicle inspection component.

For special inspections, a Level IV inspection is conducted. This typically includes one-time examination of a particular item. This is usually supported by a recent study or trend indicating a common violation. With regards to a Level V inspection, this is considered a vehicle-only inspection. Much like a Level III inspection operating like a Level I inspection focusing just on the driver's details, a Level V inspection includes all the vehicle inspection items specified in a Level I inspection; however, this inspection is conducted without the driver being present.

Lastly, a Level VI inspection is known as an enhanced NAS inspection for radioactive shipments. This type of inspection is used for the select vehicles that are used to transport radiological shipments. This inspection includes all the components of a Level I inspection, with the addition of inspecting procedures related to the requirements for radiological shipments.

Following a truck accident, it is common for investigators to determine whether a truck driver and the truck have recently undergone inspection. Additionally, investigation could also determine whether there was compliance and if any violations were determined.

Source:, "Six Levels of a Roadside Inspection," accessed Aug. 17, 2015

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