Tips to ensure a smooth roadside inspection
By: Phil Sneed
The new year represents a breath of fresh air for the trucking industry. Everyone is able to hit the reset button and continue to make the industry stronger and even more productive. From senior-level executives to fleet owners and drivers, it is important every aspect of the supply chain works cohesively to ensure timely deliveries and minimal issues.
Smooth deliveries will not always happen, however. Traffic, weather and breaks in driving are a few of the factors that can throw off a trucker's routine while he or she is on the interstate.
Interruptions may occur during periodic roadside inspections. According to the U.S. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, every commercial vehicle is subject to being inspected. Understandably so, these stops may lead to disruptions and delays, which can be made even worse if drivers don't cooperate.
With that in mind, drivers should use the new year to examine how they approach roadside inspections, and how to speed the process up.
Accept the inspection
Fleet Owner interviewed inspector Andy Blair, who conducts 300 to 400 checks every year and has extensive training from the Department of Transportation. According to Blair, if truckers are picked for a check, it's in their best interest to accept it and not overly complain.
"The more a driver cooperates with the officer, the smoother the inspection process will be."
Inspectors performing roadside checks have full discretion to issue citations to drivers and their fleets. As such, the more a driver cooperates with the officer, the smoother the inspection process will be.
Pre-trip check is an essential part of every delivery. According to Smart-Trucking, this thorough overview looks to ensure the load and mechanical parts are properly maintained and ready for the journey. If any issues are spotted, drivers should spot them before hitting the road.
If drivers don't handle issues, a roadside inspection may then become even more tedious. If asked by inspectors if anything unusual was spotted during pre-trip, truckers should always be upfront instead of simply saying "no."
Maintain a positive attitude
Attitude matters before and during a roadside inspection. While sometimes a hassle, these inspections are meant to help spot and correct issues before they get worse, even if they result in fines. Blair advised drivers not to say anything that would essentially volunteer themselves for an inspection, and this includes asking why an inspection is even occurring.
A positive attitude encompasses more than simply smiling and treating others with respect. Drivers can maintain a positive attitude on a more consistent basis by getting enough sleep every night. According to Udemy, not enough sleep can influence one's ability to be positive about work and toward others.
Stress also plays a big factor, and drivers may find it beneficial to identify areas at work and home that cause tension. From there, they can start managing their stress, which can be achieved by exercising and eating well-balanced meals, among other strategies, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America.
Be clean and responsible
A clean cab can go a long way during roadside inspections. Inspectors will typically look inside the truck to get an idea of the driver that is currently being inspected.
Most inspectors understand that drivers spend a lot of time on the road, and maintaining a clean cab is relatively low on a trucker's checklist. However, ensuring cabs don't smell bad or resemble a college dorm room is beneficial, not only for personal hygiene, but because inspections will become easier.
If inspectors notice a cab that is not well-maintained, they may question how a driver can maintain a semi-trailer. They're more likely to find issues with the truck if the driver doesn't maintain a clean cab. Keep in mind that an empty water bottle or bag of food isn't a cause for concern, meaning truckers don't have to have the cleanest of cabs.
"Attitude matters before and during a roadside inspection."
Drivers should, however, always have their documents easily accessible. Inspectors will ask for documentation and expect to see it right away. Drivers who can't find the paperwork should then expect a long inspection process.
Furthermore, these documents should be updated, as inspectors don't want to see materials that are a couple of years old. When truckers are not on the road, they may want to take the time to organize their paperwork into a binder. This will help them keep better track of this information and also make it easier for inspectors to look through. The binder should include registration, the driver's medical card and more.
Documents that are presented in well-kept manner, in addition to a truck that is in good shape, will go a long way in the inspection process.
Roadside inspections are a necessary, but sometimes annoying, component of the trucking industry. As such, drivers should strive to ensure their cabs are clean and have the necessary paperwork ready. Above all, truckers must maintain a positive attitude throughout the entire inspection process.