Despite their regular appearances on Tennessee roads, commercial motor vehicles are large and potentially dangerous machines. As such, the owners and drivers of these vehicles are required to comply with certain safety standards. Among these are regular inspections.

According to part 396 of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration regulations, commercial trucks must be inspected annually. The standards for these inspections are described in part 399, appendix G of the FMCSA regulations. Required areas of review include the following:

  • Brake systems
  • Coupling devices
  • Exhaust systems
  • Fuel systems
  • Lighting devices
  • Safe loading

Any vehicles that suffer from a defect or deficiency in one or more of the categories listed in appendix G will not pass inspection.

According to federal regulations, inspections must be documented and these records must be kept in the vehicle. Acceptable documentation includes FMCSA-compliant reports as well as stickers or decals. In order for a sticker or decal to be valid, it must contain information from the inspection report. This information must include the inspection date, address and name of the entity which maintains the inspection report, identifying information for the vehicle and certification of the vehicle’s inspection.

Inspections can be performed through state sites that meet the minimum requirements of appendix G. According to the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security, there are six inspection sites for commercial vehicles in the state. These are operated by the Tennessee Highway Patrol Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Division. The guidance section of part 396 in the FMCSA regulations explains that if a state’s periodic inspection program satisfies these minimum standards, other states must recognize these inspections.


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