You’re on your way to another on-time delivery. It’s sunny out. Traffic is light. Overall, it’s a good day out on the road. Then, suddenly, you see flashing lights in the rear view mirror.
Here it comes – the dreaded DOT roadside inspection. Nothing can derail an otherwise perfect day quite like one of these…especially if you’re unprepared.
I was recently reading an article in Fleet Owner with roadside inspection tips from a former municipal police officer, Andy Blair, that are absolutely worth sharing. Officer Blair was a municipal police officer for 26 years, inspecting trucks for the last 11. After doing over 300 inspections a year, it’s safe to say he knows thing or two about them. So, let’s jump right in.
#1 – First Impressions Are Lasting Ones
Keeping a clean truck is a big deal. Whether the driver likes it or not, the cleanliness of his/her truck creates a first impression for the officer.
More often than not, a messy driver on the inside of his truck is a messy driver when it comes to maintaining the outside of his truck. Now, most officers do not expect a sparkling clean truck at all times. After all, many drivers live in their truck for the most part. But if there’s a pile of junk in the corner and the truck smells bad, it’s usually a pretty good indication that the driver is not on top of things.
#2 – Keep Your Documents Organized
Scrambling through to find things such as a DOT medical card or registration just isn’t a good look. This signals to officers that the driver is unorganized.
It’s worth it to take a few minutes to put all required documents needed for roadside inspections in a binder. Then, the officer doesn’t have to worry about things such as the wind blowing them away or rain. Things are neat, clean and organized.
Not only is this a better overall presentation to the officer, when you combine it will a clean truck it’s likely to dramatically reduce the chances of the inspection continuing.
#3 – Be Courteous
This one should really go without saying, yet all too often drivers can get offended by an inspection. As the officer in the article, who has been inspecting trucks for the last 11 years says, “I don’t want to hear: ‘What’d ya stop me for? I didn’t do anything wrong.’ If you can do anything to mitigate the chances or likelihood of being held up and inspected, it’s probably worth your time to do that, even if you don’t feel like it,” said Officer Blair.
#4 – Inspections Don’t Mean Citations
Just because you get pulled over, doesn’t mean you get a citation. As the Officer Blair says, “I don’t have a quota for citations, but I have a quota for inspections.”
This means if you really have your ducks in a row with the first three items, it could be a quick inspection with no citations. But going into it with the mindset that you’re getting a citation no matter what – might result in just that.
BONUS #5 – Make Sure Your Truck Is Maintained
At Dickinson Fleet, we’d like to add a bonus #5 tip to officer Blair’s list – make time for maintenance. Sure, doing mandatory pre-trip inspections are great. But being on top of your fleet maintenance game is even better. As you could see from tips 1-4, an officer can get a good feel very quickly on if he/she thinks an inspection needs to be escalated.
If in addition to being clean, your truck looks well maintained (lights, tires, etc) from an equipment standpoint – you’re going to be in even better shape. Routine truck maintenance shows and can pay off big time situations such as a DOT inspection.
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