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Commercial motor vehicle inspection process

The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) and the Ohio State Highway Patrol work to ensure that commercial motor vehicles (CMV) are traveling safely throughout Ohio. PUCO inspectors regularly conduct safety inspections on CMVs. Each safety inspection follows a thorough process to make sure that the driver and CMV meet necessary state and federal regulations. Vehicles and drivers that fail to meet these regulations may be placed out-of-service and cannot continue operating until they comply with the regulations.

Initiating the inspection

The inspector collects the driver’s documentation and operating permits, interviews the driver, identifies the motor carrier, checks for the presence of hazardous materials and explains the inspection process to the driver. The inspector also checks the condition of the driver for signs of fatigue and for the use or possession of alcohol or illegal drugs.

Commercial driver’s license

The inspector checks the commercial driver’s license to ensure the driver has the proper qualifications to operate the CMV, including the class, necessary endorsements, expiration date and age of the driver.

Driver qualifications

The inspector checks the driver’s medical certificate to ensure the driver is physically qualified to operate the CMV.

Hours of service

The inspector reviews the driver’s logbook to verify the hours of service and checks for false logbook entries.

Initial vehicle inspection

The inspector checks the front of the CMV including the lights, windshield, windshield wipers and windshield cleaning system.

Front-side inspection

The inspector checks the front side of the CMV including the steering axle tires, wheels and rims, and the vehicle’s exhaust and fuel systems.

Mid-section inspection

The inspector checks the lights on the rear of the truck-tractor, the tires, wheels and rims, the air lines and connections on the front end of the trailer and the vehicle’s fifth wheel.

Trailer and wheel inspection

The inspector checks the lights and reflective devices on the trailer, the condition of the trailer frame and side-panels, tires, wheels, rims and coupling device. The inspector also inspects the safety chains on double trailers.

Load securement

While conducting the trailer inspection, the inspector checks the securement of the cargo on the vehicle to ensure the cargo is properly blocked and braced and all other securement regulations are followed. Vehicles hauling hazardous materials must meet stricter guidelines for securing the load.

Axle inspection

The inspector also inspects the mechanisms under the vehicle. The inspector checks the steering axle and the brake drums, brake shoes and linings and all other brake components. The inspector also checks the steering system components as well as the suspension system on both sides of the axle.

Brake inspection

The inspector checks the air lines, connections and other brake components, the vehicle’s frame and the suspension system on each axle. After the inspection of the vehicle’s undercarriage is completed, the inspector instructs the driver to apply the service brake to ensure the brake system is working properly.

Tractor interior inspection

The inspector checks the tractor interior including the vehicle’s low air pressure warning device, the steering wheel lash, the tractor protection system and emergency equipment.

Completing the inspection

The inspector prepares the inspection report and verifies the licensing and insurance via a federal database. If driver or vehicle violations are discovered, the inspector may issue an out-of-service order to the driver or vehicle, depending on the violation.

If no critical violations are discovered during the inspection, the inspector issues a decal from the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) for the vehicle or vehicles. These decals exclude the vehicles from future inspections for up to three months and are recognized in the United States, Canada and Mexico.

This thorough inspection process helps the PUCO and other authorities monitor and enforce motor carrier safety on Ohio highways. For specific information about the inspection process, contact the PUCO at (800) 686-PUCO (7826) or visit the motor carrier industry section of