Will your truck be on the road during the DOT road check week this year?
According to DOT this year between June 7-9 they will be inspected a lot of truck drivers and their equipment. Last year the DOT’s focus was on brakes, and this year they will be focusing on tires. While many truck drivers,specifically owner operators are driving safe and legal equipment they don’t like being targeted. The truth is DOT can pull over a brand new truck and trailer and find something to write a violation for.
If you are a independent carrier, typically a 1 man owner operator company you wouldn’t want to risk damaging your company’s CSA score over something minor that DOT may find on your equipment. Many carriers that are company driver operation typically put all their trucks for DOT inspections at places like Petro, T/A, Love’s, etc.
Do you plan on rolling during the DOT road check this year?
If you plan on rolling remember that rates will be higher. Don’t sell your self short or accept cheap freight. The truck capacity will tighten and majority of the truckers that are on the road will be accepting only shorter hauls due to less driving which equals to less chance of being pulled in for an inspection. If you are a night time driver this will probably be good for you since DOT is not going to have 30 DOT SUV’s inspecting trucks at 2 AM. Majority of the inspections are done between early mornings and late afternoons. It’s a chance for longer miles and high rate per mile to accompany the transportation of the freight. If you are a dispatcher, or a owner operator that books loads don’t leave money on the table this week!
Road Check 2016 Inspection Check List
Be Ready and Prepared:
- Fire Extinguisher & Safety Triangle Kit: Check that your fire extinguisher is not dirty and dusty, wipe it off in case it is. Make sure that it’s charged and operable. Check your safety triangle kit is in the truck, not broken, and you know exactly where it is when a DOT officer asks to see it. This is part of your daily pre trip, and if you can’t find where you placed it flags rise that alert DOT officers that you haven’t done a proper pre trip. Safety Triangle Kit
- Proper Documentation: Your log books if on paper logs, should ALWAYS be updated, and filled out properly. Straight lines, clear hand writing will allow DOT officers to do a quicker check to make sure you haven’t violated the HOS Rules & Regulations. It also indicates that you know how to do your log books properly, which is part of being a professional commercial driver. Your documents such as Registration, Insurances, IFTA, Permits,medical card, etc should be kept in a neatly organized folder, and a clean one at that. This makes it easier for the DOT officer to verify that your truck is indeed properly authorized to be on the road. DOT officer does not want to spend 45 minutes waiting for documents to be found with coffee stains over it.
- Professional Attitude: Your attitude is everything in this world. A DOT Officer is not looking to ruin your day, he or she is simply doing their job. This doesn’t mean you have to make best friends with the DOT Inspection squad, but a professional and kind attitude with honesty will get you far. Poor habits such as smoking cigarettes in the DOT Inspector’s face, and giving them attitude for puling you in may prolong the inspection. Keep politics, and personal beliefs out of the conversation. Don’t play with your phone, blasting music, and smoke cigarettes. Do as you’re asked and go about your day.
- Clean Cab & Clean Truck: When a DOT officer sticks his head into your truck he doesn’t expect to see a sparkling luxury like in the backseat of a Rolls Royce. He does expect not see piss bottles all over the floor, mold, cigarettes butts, and other dirty habits. If you can’t dust off your dash, sweep the floor, and make your bed, this indicates that you don’t check anything on your truck either. If you can’t keep where you sleep clean and organized, chances are you don’t check for your equipment. Dirty cabs can also call for a thorough search for any drugs, or weapons. Get a truck wash. Doesn’t mean you need to detail your truck, but any oil stains can indicate you have oil leaks. A dirty truck can indicate that you haven’t had time for a wash due to driving nonstop.
- Citation Quota Myth: Just because you have been pulled in for an inspection doesn’t mean it’s because the DOT has to meet a citation quota. They do have to meet a inspection quota however. What this means is as long as they inspected a certain number of trucks they’re off to go. It’s much more easier for them to meet this quota with passing trucks.
- Inspect Your Truck: Spend 15 minutes to ensure all your tires are legal by having good PSI, no cracks and good tread. Having an extra spare tire helps in case you do run over a nail during transit and cause damage to your tire. In the perspective from a DOT officer, it’s understanding sometimes things can go bad, but being prepared for it will make them easier on you. Check all your lights, and keep extra bulbs just in case that a light does go out after you inspected it. If you are not sure how to adjust your brakes, find a mechanic shop that will do it for you. $75 can avoid a bigger headache, and your brakes should always be adjusted all the time! If you have extra oil bottles, tools, etc keep those nicely organized as well. This indicates that you do check your truck, and properly organize your tools. Truck Tire Inflator KIt
- Seat Belts: You will be surprised how many drivers get chosen for an inspection due to being caught without a seat belt. No matter how clean, and brand new your equipment is a seat belt is a violation.