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How to Tackle a Department of Transportation Audit?

Category:fleet gps tracker

smarketingNovember 24, 2023

The Department of Transportation (DOT) ensures a commercial fleet vehicle and its driver comply traffic as well as safety regulations. How does DOT do this? They run an inspection, of course!

Often, vehicles are scrapped and drivers lose their licenses after DOT inspections. This is why, it is best to prepare for a DOT audit when the time comes. Without preparation, fleet managers cannot escape driver and vehicle downtimes.

When can one expect a DOT inspection?

DOT inspections take place unannounced at any time of the year.

This blog in the following sections will shine a light on what can you expect in a DOT audit. At the same time, some tips on how you can prepare for a DOT audit will also be shared!

Read on to know more.

A few facts about DOT inspections

Fleet vehicles and their drivers must adhere to fleet safety practices at all times. DOT inspections (or audits) are carried out to keep American roads safe. With audits, the DOT identifies fleet vehicles that can cause or are involved in a crash.

What is checked?

The series of tests that a DOT audit usually brings with it, checks the coverall condition of a fleet vehicle. The above-mentioned tests also evaluate the overall skills of a fleet driver.

Who carries out these inspections?

These inspections are carried out by state troopers. The inspections can also be carried out by Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance officials.

Where can one expect to be part of a DOT audit?

The DOT audits are often carried out at truck stops, weighing stations, or on the road.

What are the different levels of DOT inspections?

There are six levels of DOT inspections and they look like this –

Level 1 - North American Standard DOT Inspection

This is a common and thorough process that looks for anything out of the ordinary with the fleet vehicle and its driver. The process completes in an hour. The diver would need to present any document that the DOT official demands. The driver’s alcohol/drug abuse history as well as driver behavior records will be scrutinized.

The DOT inspector then will pay a close attention to the following aspects of a commercial vehicle.

  1. Seat belts
  2. Brakes
  3. Fuel systems
  4. Steering wheel
  5. Tires, hubcaps, and rims
  6. Suspension
  7. Lights
  8. Windshield wipers
  9. Coupling devices
  10. Cargo securing systems

Level 2 - Walk-Around Driver and Vehicle Inspection

In a Level 2 inspection, the inspector will check under the truck cab and its trailer. The driver will have to produce the documents the official needs. Additionally, the officials will also audit if the driver is abusing illegal substances.

Level 3 - Driver-Only DOT Inspection

DOT officials will only audit the fleet vehicle driver and pays attention to the following.

  1. Service hour logs
  2. Medical examiner certificate
  3. Driver's license
  4. Seat belt use
  5. Record of Duty status
  6. Alcohol and drug use
  7. Skill performance evaluation certificate
  8. Carrier identification and status

Level 4 - Special DOT Inspection

This DOT inspection is carried out to monitor and track violations that are trending over time.

Level 5 - Vehicle-Only DOT Inspection

These are vehicle-only inspections that focus on the checklist DOT officials follow in Level 1 audits. The driver doesn’t have to be present near the vehicle while the audit is carried out.

Level 6 - NAS Inspection for Radioactive Materials

This audit is designed to analyze trailers that transport radioactive materials. The radioactive cargo will be checked. The driver will receive a special nuclear symbol. The driver will also be instructed to stick the symbol on the vehicle and keep it there till the cargo is delivered.

The most common inspection types

The most common DOT audits are Level 1, 2, or 3. DOT audit levels 4 to 6 are for select cases and are mostly roadside inspections.

How to prepare for DOT inspections?

Before an inspector arrives at the inspection site, they may ask you to keep any paperwork regarding compliance issues at hand. You should keep documents like vehicle & driver registration, insurance documents, etc. handy.

Other documents that you might be asked to produce are as follows.

  1. Advanced user list
  2. Malfunction report
  3. Violations report
  4. Personal conveyance report
  5. Unassigned logs report
  6. Hiring documentation and disciplinary action
  7. Accident register
  8. Edit report
  9. List of hazardous materials
  10. Driver's medical certificates

What to expect next?

After analyzing all the papers, the auditor might take a closer look at drivers who have been in accidents or have HOS violations. The auditor might also ask for printouts of the driver's logs for further analysis.

After all of the above steps concludes the fleet will be issued a compliance review report. The report would pinpoint areas of concern and will also contain recommendations that can improve performance and DOT compliance. After all, the objective of FMCSA is to ensure trucks operate safely. This means an auditor will actively search for ongoing issues affecting on-road safety.

Which tips can help you easily tackle a DOT inspection?

The following tips will help ensure your drivers and vehicles are ready for DOT inspections.

A clean workspace

Cleaning the workspace does not mean cleaning the inside of the fleet vehicle. You must tend to the exterior of semi trucks too. In this way, you showcase your professionalism and ensure longer equipment life.

Being more organized

Motivate your drivers to keep their papers ready. Make sure that they are presenting the documents in an organized manner.

Prioritize the driver vehicle inspection reports (DVIR)

Making sure your drivers assess the vehicles you assign to them before and after trips. This will help keep your entire team of fleet drivers vigilant. Cultivate the habit of handling maintenance issues the moment they pop up in your fleet drivers. In this way every DOT inspection will not only be efficient but also smooth.


Reducing paperwork is now mandatory. Having access to all necessary documents in digital format make DOT audits smooth for all involved.

Fleet management technology

Using a fleet GPS tracker or other fleet vehicle management systems will ensure proper optimization and streamlining of your fleet business for DOT inspections. Fleet management solutions can flag maintenance issues, monitor driver safety, and more from one place.

Easily pass a DOT inspection today!

Using a GPS tracking solution like Vyncs can help streamline Department of Transportation inspections. All data concerning vehicles and drivers will be available in one open platform you can access via your mobile phone.

If you pay attention to the information accumulated by top ranking fleet management solutions such as a Vyncs device and presented through the mobile app, you can take measures to ensure your drivers adhere to the rules of the road and conduct timely maintenance. Check out our products to learn more.