Attitude is Everything for Driver Inspections

The average amount of downtime for a truck place out of service in a roadside inspection is 8.5 hours. When you are trying to make a profit off of trucking, that is no small change. As we move forward the DOT sticker, License plate scanners, and roadside-mounted infrared cameras that can inspect the brakes on trucks as it passes as a heat indicator for compliance.

Most often overlooked, is the significance of good company culture and driver attitudes in lowering the costs for motor carriers on items like insurance and mitigating downtime. The roadside inspection should be an unwanted hassle, rather an opportunity to exhibit consistent compliance with both state and federal regulations to make highways safer for everyone. The ultimate goal for inspectors and carriers alike is to get unsafe carriers off the road and help safe carriers avoid as much downtime as possible.

One thing you can control during a roadside inspection is your attitude toward the inspecting agency or officer making the stop.

Start off with a good stop; put yourself in their shoes, most of the time they have to use their own discretion and experience to identify who goes and who stays. Don't let it get out of hand and make sure you regularly clean inside to avoid looking like you don't maintain your truck, not maintain your truck gives the officer the first impression if you don't take care of your space as an operator, you take care of the rest of your rig in the same manner.

Make sure your documents are readily available and easy to inspect; take time to organize once and put your documents in a folder or ring binder. Medical card, registration and everything else that goes in between; the easier everything is to read, the faster you'll go on your way.

Check your attitude at the door; don't do or say anything to volunteer yourself for an inspection. Don't ask why you got stopped or say you didn't do anything wrong. Officers observe how you handle yourself and how you answer their questions. The right attitude can help the officer make the decisions to let you go on your way , or keep you there for next steps.

It's all about an inspection sometimes; officers don't have a quota for citations, but they do for inspections. Get over it. You may still get inspected because they need to get some inspections done. They usually don't have requirements for the number tickets they write, but there are requirements for the number of inspections per quarter.

Here are some best practices to make sure your drivers' truck inspections go as smoothly as possible:

  • no attitude, please. A driver's best behavior during an inspection is always professional and courteous.
  • Pre-inspect the vehicle, including checking the load and mirrors.
  • Keep the logbook current and neat. Inspectors will want to see the last seven days of activity.
  • Avoid lapses in attention and poor judgment by getting enough rest. Sleep deprivation is a threat to safe driving.
  • Inspectors will want to check out a CDL, medical cards, trailer registration, and documents in a permit book. Make sure all paperwork is accurate and current.
  • Minimize driving distractions, including phone use and loud radio.
  • Remember that bad tires could trigger a more thorough inspection. And if a Level 1 inspection is completed, get a sticker for it.
  • Clue in on the most common violations: brakes out of adjustment, other brake problems, lights, tires / wheels, and cargo load securement. Other areas worth review include: coupling devices; fuel and exhaust systems; frame, van, and open-top trailers; steering; suspension; and rims / hubs.
  • All inspection violations become part of the CSA / SMS record.