Effective immediately, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration will no longer accept a violation-free roadside inspection conducted under the North American Standard (NAS) Inspection standards as a substitute for the mandatory annual inspection for a commercial motor vehicle (CMV). The change was among several amendments the agency adopted in a final rule published July 22, 2016.
FMCSA said that while an inspection conducted under the NAS standard is "quite comprehensive," certain limitations to roadside procedures prevent inspectors from properly examining all of the vehicle condition items in Appendix G of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations, including:
Brake linings and pads and brake drums or rotors: Inspectors cannot remove wheels or dust shields; only visible components can be examined at roadside.
Hydraulic brakes: Inspectors cannot disassemble components; only visible components can be examined at roadside.
Fifth wheels, pintle hooks: Combination vehicles are not typically decoupled to view upper and lower fifth wheel assemblies and other coupler assemblies; only visible components can be examined at roadside.
Tires: Low boy, car hauler, and other low profile or tight clearance vehicles, and dual tire sets have limited access to the entire tire circumference without wheel removal; only visible components can be examined at roadside.
Wheels and rims: Dual wheel sets may have limited access to inside wheel visibility; only visible components can be examined at roadside.
Given that most roadside inspections do not meet the annual inspection requirements under §396.17, "FMCSA does not believe it is appropriate to continue to allow motor carriers to use roadside inspections conducted by enforcement officials to satisfy the annual inspection requirements."
Motor carriers or their agents now must complete a periodic inspection of every CMV under its control in accordance with Appendix G at least once every 12 months, unless the vehicle is subject to a mandatory state inspection program in accordance with §396.23(b)(1), meaning that FMCSA has determined the program to be as effective as the requirements of §396.17. According to the most recent list published by FMCSA, 22 states have inspection programs that meet the agency's requirements. FMCSA also revised regulatory guidance concerning annual inspections to reflect the rule change.
Other changes in the July 22 rule include:
Adding a definition of “major tread groove” and an illustration to indicate the location of tread wear indicators or wear bars on a tire signifying a major tread groove
Revising the rear license plate lamp requirement to eliminate the requirement for an operable rear license plate lamp on vehicles when there is no rear license plate present
Amending the regulations regarding tires to prohibit the operation of a vehicle with speed-restricted tires at speeds that exceed the rated limit of the tire
Providing specific requirements regarding when violations or defects noted on an inspection report must be corrected
Revising two appendixes to the FMCSRs to include provisions for the inspection of antilock braking systems (ABS) and automatic brake adjusters, speed-restricted tires, and motorcoach passenger seat mounting anchorages
Revising the inspector qualification requirements as a result of the amendments to the periodic inspection rules.
In addition, FMCSA eliminated introductory regulatory text from an appendix to the FMCSRs because the discussion of the differences between the North American Standard Inspection out-of-service criteria and FMCSA's periodic inspection criteria is unnecessary.