Carrier Roadside Inspection Checklist

Review this checklist to identify gaps in compliance and reduce the risk of roadside inspection violations.

Published On: 03/19/2020
Carrier and driver inspecting trailer
J. J. Keller Industry Consultant Tom Bray

Written by:

Tom Bray

Sr. Industry Business Advisor — J. J. Keller & Associates, Inc.

While drivers are on the frontline of a roadside inspection, support and due diligence from their carrier goes a long way to make their engagement with enforcement a more efficient and productive experience. Make time to review this checklist to identify any gaps in compliance, as well as opportunities for process improvements that can help reduce the risk of violations and out of service events. Download this checklist here.

Avoid Unnecessary Inspections

The best way to reduce the risk of violations is to reduce the risk of being selected for roadside inspections. Carriers can avoid unnecessary inspections by ensuring they:

  • Have a maintenance program that ensures only well-maintained, safe, and compliant vehicles are on the road.
  • Clearly mark all vehicles with the company name and DOT number.
  • Train drivers on safe and defensive driving.
  • Take steps necessary to maintain low CSA BASIC scores, and thereby receiving a “Pass” recommendation in ISS.
  • Use systems that help prevent accidents.

The Inspection Process

Here are some specific checks a carrier can conduct to support their drivers during the roadside inspection process.


Carriers should make sure drivers understand:

  • The officer’s actions when he/she selects an inspection location and approaches the vehicle.
  • What the officer is looking for during his or her approach to the cab, and what not to do when the officer approaches the door.


Carriers should make sure drivers understand the officer’s questions are intended to gather basic information that will be verified later in the inspection (in particular, during the hours-of-service portion).


To avoid problems addressing the officer’s request for documents, carriers should make sure:

  • Drivers understand that they need to know what carrier they are working for and what they are hauling.
  • All vehicle and company credentials (registration, fuel permits, hazardous materials registration, etc.) are current and in the vehicles. This should be checked during routine vehicle service.
  • All of the vehicle documentation is in a common location that is known to the drivers.


To avoid problems when the driver’s credentials are checked, the carrier needs to:

  • Make sure it has all of the required carrier credentials (DOT number, for-hire authority, UCR), and that a process is in place to notify the company when it is time to renew a credential.
  • Have a method for determining which drivers can operate what vehicles and ensure that drivers are assigned only to vehicles they are qualified to operate.
  • Have a mechanism in place that notifies the company when a driver qualification credential is lost or coming due for renewal.
  • Run an MVR on all CDL drivers within 15 days of a medical exam to verify the new medical information is on the driver’s MVR.


To prevent problems during the hours-of-service portion of the inspection, a carrier should:

  • Train drivers on:
  • How to use the ELD during daily operations and determine when it is malfunctioning.
  • The process for displaying ELD logs.
  • How to transfer their logs to the officer.
  • When required entries must be made.
  • The process for accepting or rejecting unassigned driving time at log in.
  • Make sure the ELDs display all required information when set to the roadside inspection mode.
  • Have a procedure in place to assist drivers with reconstructing the current and previous seven days when an ELD malfunctions.
  • Have a procedure for applying for an extension with FMCSA if a malfunctioning device cannot be replaced within eight days.
  • Audit ELD records:
  • To make sure there are no jumps in location, mileages, or engine hours. If jumps are found, a determination on why they occurred should be made and addressed with the driver.
  • For over-hours violations, and counsel drivers to stop future violations.
  • For falsification by investigating:
    • Unassigned driving time.
    • Use of special driver categories.
    • All edits.
    • The driver's use of off duty.
  • Audit paper logs:
  • To verify the driver’s use of paper logs was acceptable.
  • For missing entries.
  • For violations of the hours-of-service limits.
  • For falsification by:
    • Verifying the miles between all points mentioned on the log.
    • Verifying the log is accurate by comparing it to supporting documents.
    • Verifying that on-duty activities are logged on duty.
  • If a driver is using a mobile app in place of paper logs, ensure the driver can print the logs in the vehicle.


To avoid violations when DVIRs are requested and examined, carriers should:

  • Conducting post-trip inspections.
  • Completing DVIRs.
  • Looking for partially completed DVIRs during the pre-trip.
  • Have a process in place for immediately receiving DVIRs with defects.
  • Train maintenance personnel on the DVIR process:
  • Review, repair or comment.
  • Sign the DVIR and route to next driver to use the vehicle.
  • Address any defects listed on a DVIR before the vehicle is operated again.

Annual Inspection Check

Carriers can avoid annual inspection violations by ensuring they:

  • Use a program that tracks the due dates for all annual inspections.
  • Have a policy of not using any vehicle that does not have a current annual inspection.
  • Have a list of road service companies that can conduct annual inspections on trailers that did not get inspected in time.
  • Check annual inspection due dates during all maintenance activities.
  • Train drivers on the proof of annual inspection requirements, what proof is carried, and where it is located.

Avoid Vehicle Violations

To avoid the discovery of violations during the vehicle portion of the roadside inspection, carriers should:

  • Have an effective preventive maintenance program.
  • Make sure all vehicles are at the maintenance facility for service when scheduled.
  • Routinely inspect any available vehicles located at the company facility.
  • Train drivers on vehicle inspections.
  • Have tracking programs in place to identify drivers that may not be conducting thorough inspections.

Download this checklist here.

Get Our Step-by-Step Guide to Roadside Inspections

Our subject matter experts walk you through a roadside inspection from selection to completion. They detail each inspection step, what the officer will ask for and look at, and how your driver and unit can be prepared. Free download.

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