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5.2.2 Vehicle Inspections

Roadside Inspection Reports (396.9)

Any driver who receives a roadside inspection report is required to deliver it to the motor carrier within 24 hours. If a vehicle is declared “out-of-service,” violations or defects must be corrected before a vehicle may operate again. Carriers must sign and return the completed roadside inspection report within 15 days of the inspection, verifying all violations have been corrected. A copy of this report must be retained by the carrier for 12 months following the date of inspection.

Driver Vehicle Inspection Reports (DVIR) (Post-Trip) (396.11)

Per 49 CFR 396.11, drivers of passenger-carrying and non-passenger CMVs must inspect vehicles and prepare and sign a written report at the completion of each day's work on each vehicle operated, except for intermodal equipment tendered by an intermodal equipment provider. See FMCSA’s additional guidance on completing and retaining DVIRs. See 49 CFR 396.11(b) for intermodal equipment inspection requirements.

The report shall cover at least the following parts and accessories, and must list any defect or deficiency discovered by or reported to the driver which would affect the safety of operation of the vehicle or result in its mechanical breakdown.

  • Service brakes, including trailer brake connections
  • Parking (hand) brake
  • Steering mechanism
  • Lighting devices and reflectors
  • Tires
  • Horn
  • Windshield wipers
  • Rear-vision mirrors
  • Coupling devices
  • Wheels and rims
  • Emergency equipment

If a driver operates more than one vehicle during the day, a report must be prepared for each vehicle operated.

Type of CMV

Inspection Reporting Requirements

For-Hire Passenger CMVs

Submit report after every trip, even if no defects are found by or reported to the driver.

All other CMVs

Submit report only if a defect that would affect the safety operation of the vehicle is found or has been reported to the driver.

Corrective Action
Carriers must repair any defect or deficiency before the vehicle is dispatched again, and certify on the original driver vehicle inspection report that the defect or deficiency has been repaired or that repair is unnecessary.

The motor carrier must maintain the original driver vehicle inspection report (DVIR), the certification of repairs, and the certification of the driver’s review for three months from the date of the initial report.

Pre-trip Inspection (396.13)

Before operating the vehicle, the driver must inspect the vehicle and be satisfied that it is in safe operating condition. If the last vehicle inspection report notes any deficiencies, the driver must review and sign to acknowledge and certify that the required repairs were made.

Periodic Inspection (396.17, 396.21)

Every commercial vehicle, including each segment of a combination vehicle, must undergo periodic inspection at least once every 12 months. At a minimum, inspections must include all items listed in 49 CFR 396 Appendix A: Minimum Periodic Inspection Standards.

The periodic inspection report must be retained by the motor carrier for 14 months while documentation of the most recent periodic inspection (sticker, report, or decal) must be kept on the vehicle. Carriers in States without a Federal inspection program equivalent (see 49 CFR 396.23) may perform required annual inspections themselves or allow a third-party to conduct inspections, so long as the inspector meets the qualifications mandated in 49 CFR 396.19.

  • Motor carriers must ensure that inspectors:
    • Understand the inspection standards in 49 CFR 396 Appendix A;
    • Can identify defective components; and
    • ­Have knowledge and proficiency in methods, procedures, and tools.
  • Motor carriers must also ensure that inspectors have gained experience or training by:
    • ­Completing a State or Federal training program, or earning a State or Canadian Province qualifying certificate in commercial motor vehicle safety inspections; or
    • A combination of other training or experience totaling at least a year.

Motor carriers must retain evidence of an inspector’s qualifications until one year after the inspector ceases to perform inspections for the carrier.

Equivalent to Periodic Inspection (396.23)

Motor carriers may meet periodic inspection requirements through a State inspection program that FMCSA has deemed equivalent to its Federal inspection requirements.

The following States have adopted periodic inspection requirements that FMCSA has deemed equivalent to its periodic inspection requirements:

  • Alabama (only LPG Board)
  • California
  • Connecticut
  • District of Columbia
  • Hawaii
  • Louisiana
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan (bus inspection program)
  • Minnesota
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • Ohio (church bus inspection program)
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • Texas
  • Utah
  • Vermont
  • Virginia
  • West Virginia
  • Wisconsin (bus inspection program)

Note: Arkansas and Oklahoma no longer carry inspection programs that are approved by FMCSA. The inspection programs of Mexico (NOM 68), the 10 Canadian Provinces, and the Yukon Territory are FMCSA compliant.

See 49 CFR 396.23 for more information.

Intermodal Equipment Provider (IEP) Inspection

Information regarding IEP inspections can be found in 49 CFR 396.3, 49 CFR 396.9, and 49 CFR 396.25. IEP report requirements are stated in 49 CFR 396.11(b) and 49 CFR 396.12.

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