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What Kind of Inspection Does the State of Texas Require for 18-Wheelers?

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and state governments require 18-wheelers to meet certain minimum standards before they're deemed roadworthy. To be sure the trucks are in compliance, state and federal inspectors regularly evaluate them and their operators. That may lead some to wonder: What kind of inspection does Texas require for tractor-trailers?

Answer: The State of Texas conducts annual multi-point inspections of commercial vehicles and trailers registered in the state to ensure they can safely travel.

The Rule

Every motor carrier and intermodal equipment provider must systematically inspect, repair, and maintain, or cause to be systematically inspected, repaired, and maintained, all motor vehicles and intermodal equipment subject to its control.

49 CFR § 396.3

(a) All commercial motor vehicles registered in this state shall be required to pass an annual inspection of all safety equipment required by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs) on or before the expiration of the current state inspection or vehicle inspection report.

(b) All commercial motor vehicles required to be inspected under the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations are also subject to the regular state inspection requirements as provided in Texas Transportation Code, Chapter 548.

37 Tex. Admin. Code § 4.36

In a nutshell these regulations say that 18-wheelers registered in Texas must comply both with FMCSA trucking safety standards and the normal inspection requirements of all Texas motor vehicles.

Where Do 18-Wheelers Go for Inspections in Texas?

Vehicle inspections, including those for tractor-trailers, are performed at Official Vehicle Inspection Stations licensed by the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS). Any business may apply to become a vehicle inspection station provided it meets state space, equipment, and personnel training requirements.

What is Checked During a Texas 18-Wheeler Safety Inspection?

According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Requirements (FMCSR) and the Texas Administrative Code, at least once a year commercial trucks must undergo a multi-point inspection by a licensed inspector to confirm the integrity of many components including:

  • Truck/trailer frames, couplings, and suspension
  • Tires and wheel assemblies
  • Safety guards/flaps
  • Brake systems incl. parking brake and trailer brake connections
  • Steering
  • Lights and reflectors
  • Horns and other warning devices
  • Mirrors
  • Windshield Wipers
  • Sunscreening devices incl. window tint
  • Seat belts
  • Exhaust and emissions
  • Fuel tank cap

The inspection also includes a review of the vehicle's required documentation such as VIN, registration, proof of insurance, and driver's logs.

What Happens if a Truck Fails Inspection?

If a commercial vehicle fails inspection it will be issued an Out-of-Service Order. Any problems or violations that prompted issuance of the order must be corrected and the vehicle must pass another inspection before it can return to service.

Why Does This Matter to Truck Accident Victims?

As one might imagine, a 40-ton truck operating with worn-out or malfunctioning parts has a huge capacity for causing mayhem. Annual inspections are meant to help prevent that, but some trucking companies and commercial drivers skip them or ignore their findings rather than make potentially-expensive repairs or pull a big rig from service. When a truck's disrepair contributes to an accident, it's important to hold the people responsible for its upkeep accountable.

However, proving they failed to meet safety requirements can be a daunting task for victims and families. An experienced truck accident attorney can be a helpful ally in obtaining and preserving the truck (keeping it from being repaired or destroyed) as well as getting inspection and maintenance records to investigate possible safety violations.

If you were hurt or lost a loved one in a collision with a large truck, the Texas truck accident lawyers at Grossman Law Offices may be able to help. Our attorneys have decades of combined experience assisting people with 18-wheeler accidents, including those with malfunctioning or non-compliant big rigs. Call any time for a free consultation.

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