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Fuel for Thought

Another Damn Inspection?

By Greg Huggins
Posted Nov 30th 2018 7:26AM

If you drive a truck for any length of time, you will most likely get inspected by a DOT officer. For some of us, inspections seem to happen more often.

As you pull into the weigh station and get the dreaded arrow pointing to the scale, you already know the possibility of getting inspected has just increased. After all, when you get a PrePass green light, or even the bypass arrow on the weigh station ramp, your chances of then getting stopped is not eliminated, but reduced considerably. But today, again, you slow down to approach the scale, stop until it is clear to proceed, then slowly roll onto the scale as you lower your window and await instructions. That’s when the voice on the loudspeaker crackles to life…”Driver, pull around to the parking area, wait in your vehicle, I will meet you there for an inspection.” and the arrow pointing to the inspection lot lights up. Great, another damn inspection!

If this is your first thought, then it may not go well for you. Attitude can make all the difference, that and being in compliance and prepared when the officer approaches your door.

Drivers interact with a lot of people to get their job done. We have to talk to customers, security guards, dock employees, sometimes foreman or supervisors, agents or brokers, cashiers, mechanics (or technicians as they are called today), servers (whether fast food or wait staff at sit down restaurants), other drivers and the list goes on, but when it comes to law enforcement officers, many drivers get a “us against them” attitude. What do we all have in common? We all have a job to do and we all rely on each other to keep everything in motion. Without the customers, no loads. Without the techs, no repairs to your equipment. Without the servers, no food. Without law enforcement, no rules. Ahh, now there is a sticking point for some of the drivers, rules. Yes, we have what seems to be an infinite amount of rules, but in reality, although there are many, there are not as many as a lot of drivers perceive. Regulations change to meet new standards. Most trucks run radial tires, remember when you had to take mandatory stops to check your bias ply tires? There are still regulations governing bias ply tires, but for most of us, that is one regulation we do not need to be concerned with, and there are many others, depending on your operation.

Back to the inspection. As you sit and watch other trucks pass through the weigh station while you wait for the officer to complete his or her task, you might wonder why you were chosen. If you run a compliant truck, you have nothing to worry about. If not, well then there might me cause for your dread of getting inspected.

Most officers just have to perform a certain number of inspections per quarter (not to be confused with a certain number of citations) and they are just doing their jobs. They are not “out to get you” unless you are obviously a hazard to yourself or others and then (and rightly so) they are out to get you!

If you are current, safe and compliant, there is no reason to dread getting inspected. Instead of thinking “another damn inspection”, how about “this will help my CSA score” or “I’m glad they are out here to help make the roads safer for us all”.

One last note, officers hear a lot of drivers complain and it can give them an attitude at times. Try to remember that they may have been getting yelled at all day by motorists who didn’t want their ticket, now they just want to do an inspection of your truck. There is no reason to be angry, inspections are just part of both our jobs. When you chose to drive a CMV (Commercial Motor Vehicle), you agreed to abide by the regulations governing the movement of the CMV.

For the record: §396.9   Inspection of motor vehicles and intermodal equipment in operation.

(a) Personnel authorized to perform inspections. Every special agent of the FMCSA (as defined in appendix B to this subchapter) is authorized to enter upon and perform inspections of a motor carrier's vehicles in operation and intermodal equipment in operation.

(b) Prescribed inspection report. The Driver Vehicle Examination Report shall be used to record results of motor vehicle inspections and results of intermodal equipment inspections conducted by authorized FMCSA personnel.

Be professional, courteous and compliant and you will be just fine, it’s just an inspection, no need to damn it.

 

See you down the road,

Greg

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