North American Level 1: Passing Inspection

Would you know what to expect if you were randomly selected for a North American Level 1 commercial vehicle inspection, the most thorough review possible by the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA)?

The inspection includes 37 distinct evaluations, including the driver’s license, medical examiner’s certificate and Skill Performance Evaluation (SPE) Certificate (if applicable). Also reviewed is any record of alcohol or drug use, the driver’s record of duty status, hours of service, and past vehicle inspection reports, if any. A certified inspector will look over the vehicle itself as well, including seat belt, brake systems, coupling devices, exhaust systems, frames and body, fuel systems, lighting, cargo security, steering, suspension, tires, windshield wipers, emergency systems – in short, those items with a direct link to safety.

How did the industry perform when the CVSA conducted its annual Roadcheck Blitz over three days in June of this year throughout the United States, Canada and Mexico? Of Level 1 inspections performed, 77 percent of vehicles had no violations – perfect – but 23 percent were placed Out of Service (compared to 24.1 percent in the 2013 blitz). Those are lost hours most carriers can ill afford.

“Bottom-line is a pre-trip inspection and a strong vehicle repair and maintenance program are your best defense to prepare yourself for this type of inspection,” says Gary Flaherty, Risk Management Services assistant vice president. To help our insureds attain that coveted zero violation level, Canal offers these practical tips:

  • Be particularly mindful of the five most common violation areas:
    • Brakes out of adjustment (automatic adjusters aren’t always reliable)
    • Other brake problems
    • Lights (check these just before dusk)
    • Tires and wheels (bald tires or sidewall damage are a sure invitation to inspection)
    • Cargo load securement
  • Be professional and courteous. Ask questions and share basic information. Appearing guarded may serve as a red flag.
  • Cross check “out-of-service” criteria during pre-trip inspections.
  • Make sure you have ready access to required documentation: CDL, medical certificates with any necessary waivers, up-to-date log book, proof of periodic inspections, and all load-related paperwork, including Bill of Lading and Emergency Response Information for Hazmat shipments.