Preparing for a Roadside Inspection

Going through a roadside inspection can be an intimidating and stressful event, but it’s one that commercial truck drivers must deal with on a regular basis. Roadside inspections take time; possibly costing you money in lost loads, missed appointments, and perhaps, even receiving a fine for infractions. The key is preparation and to avoid bringing undue attention to one’s self and equipment.

In 2016, there were 3,281,852 inspections conducted nationwide that resulted in 5,591,286 violations. Assuming an average inspection could take approximately 30 minutes or more, that is a great deal of unproductive time for a driver and can represent a business interruption to the motor carrier.

There are several techniques that professional drivers use to avoid bringing attention to themselves and their equipment.

Here is a partial list of tips that may help:

• Conduct a thorough pre-trip inspection

• Fix defective or inoperative items immediately

• Keep the dashboard uncluttered

• Avoid tinting the windows

• Wear a seatbelt

• Obey the speed limit

• Avoid aggressive driving, like hopping lanes and tailgating

• Do not talk on the cell phone while driving

• Be well-rested, groomed, and cleanly dressed

• Keep the interior and exterior of the tractor and trailer as clean as possible

• Conduct a thorough post-trip inspection

Keep in mind, that roadside inspectors will use the DOT number on the tractor to look up the motor carrier’s Safety Measurement System (SMS) results. If the motor carrier has a history of violations, this could trigger an inspection. Likewise, each driver’s history of violations is tracked in the SMS for 36 months. This three-year history can influence an officer’s decision to look closer for issues. For these reasons, drivers and motor carriers can help themselves by using proactive techniques to earn clean inspections.

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