SMMC 2021 Roadside Inspection

By Reagan Payne

Last week, Brian Starks found himself in an interstate impasse when his driver-side air brake system malfunctioned. He knew it was not safe to continue driving, but had to get off the road. Thanks to his roadside resourcefulness, he was able to clamp the necessary tube and get safely to a service station.

Flash forward to April 15. Starks saw the big, orange sign on I20/59 in Alabama that read, “All commercial vehicles must stop here.” He breathed a sigh of relief knowing his brakes were freshly fixed.

“Some drivers would drive all the way from Alabama to California like that,” said Nicholas Serritelli, Senior Trooper at Alabama Law Enforcement Agency (ALEA).

Roadside inspections like the one Starks pulled into on this day are designed to prevent these problems from becoming disastrous.

The Alabama Trucking Association’s regional Safety & Maintenance Management Council (SMMC) conducted this biannual roadside inspection.

ALEA Motor Carrier Troopers and FMCA agents hosted this event at the Tuscaloosa Rest Area, I20/59 Southbound Side. 

This year’s event was considered one of the largest they’ve staged with representatives of various ATA member companies and media observing the proceedings to better explain to their drivers and stakeholders exactly what to expect and what inspectors look for when these inspections are conducted.

The most extensive of these inspections is a North American Standard (NAS) Level I Inspection that’s a 37-step procedure that includes an examination of driver operating requirements and vehicle mechanical fitness. Level II typically includes everything that can be inspected without physically getting under the vehicle. Level III is a review of driver requirements, such as the license, additional operating credentials, applicable cargo and vehicle documentation, record of duty status, seat belt usage, etc.

Level I inspections were conducted on an as-needed basis. If a truck failed a Level II inspection, State Troopers thought it best to go ahead and conduct the full assessment. Level III inspections were primarily utilized on trucks that sported the name of large carriers known to keep trucks in check.

State Troopers primarily conducted Level II inspections during the Alabama exercise. This event lasted every bit of three hours. There were trucks of all types: dry vans, reefers, tankers, and flatbeds.

State Trooper directs a J.B. Hunt truck to the inspection area.

Some were passed on through, while others were directed to a rear area of the rest stop where troopers went to work. Organizers said the results of the inspections would likely be available in a month.

As each flatbed came through the line, everyone’s focus was on the securing straps. Appropriate distance between, abrasions, and tightness were all examined in these Level II inspections.

Only a few trucks were put out of service during this event. The most interesting of them all was a pickup truck hauling two cars on a trailer behind.

“There is nothing separating that truck from any of the semis here,” said Serritelli. “To haul a load like that, he has to have a CDL and all the other credentials that these trucks have.

“I can pull one of those over and it have nothing out of place. Paperwork and all, perfect. Then, you have some like this with no CDL and they have to sit on the side of the road until they figure something out.”

If you’re out on the road for any amount of time, you’re bound to face a roadside inspection. The granddaddy of them all, hosted by the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance, is set for all of North America May 4-6.

The CVSA International Roadcheck is an annual 72-hour inspection and enforcement safety event that identifies and removes unsafe commercial motor vehicles and drivers from our roadways.

This year’s Roadcheck will focus on credentials: valid CDLs, up-to-date (and available) medical certificates and accurate hours of service records. While checking vehicle components is always part of the North American Standard Inspection, CVSA will especially examine credentials as a reminder of the importance of driver preparedness.

Reagan Payne is a Staff Writer for Wright Media. She can be reached at

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