We recently covered all the different types of Department of Transportation (DOT) inspections that you could find yourself at the receiving end of. But the question is, what do you do?
The fact is, professional truck drivers should learn the dangers of driving a defective commercial motor vehicle and become proficient in detecting and reporting problems. You’ll want to make sure you catch the problem before it either grows into a bigger problem or gets you hit with a ding on your next inspection.
What to Check
First, start with checking all your vehicle’s equipment. Although your tires may rarely blow out, they may have deflated a little or have sidewall damage. You’ll want to check them for proper inflation by using a digital pressure gauge.
Another thing to consider are the rules and regulation surrounding the use of mud flaps in your state. In some states splashguards and mud flaps are required.
Also, ensure all your lights are in functioning working order. Check both your break, headlights, high and low beams.
Finally, address any cracks you find, even small window cracks. They can quickly become much worse if they aren’t immediately addressed. Flying gravel can cause hairline cracks and stars, which you can be penalized for in a DOT inspection.
Cleanliness and Documentation
Your vehicle could be in the best shape it has ever been in, but if your cab isn’t neat and tidy, you’re already giving the inspector a bad impression, which could lead him or her to be even more thorough.
But if your house is in order, with documents and a fire extinguisher all where they need to be, the inspection process will run very smoothly.
Here’s what you need to know to be completely prepared:
- Keep your cab clean
- Have your documents in order and in an easy-to-inspect format
- Driver’s license
- Medical examiner’s certificate
- Driver’s record of duty status
- Annual inspection documentation
- If applicable, hazardous materials paperwork
- Permit credentials
The more you keep your truck and documents in order, the more likely you are to pass a DOT inspection with flying colors.
When it comes to dealing with an inspector, attitude is everything. While it isn’t in the books, one of the critical factors in passing an inspection is the truck driver’s behavior.
If you start off by arguing with the inspector, it is more likely they will opt for a Level I inspection and find anything they can that may not be within code. The fact is, when you have a better attitude, it’s likely you’ll have a better experience.
Another thing to consider is how forthcoming you are with something you found wrong after leaving the terminal. You’ll want to inform the inspector that you discovered the problem during your pre-trip inspection or upon leaving the terminal. Inspectors understand that things happen between trips, so it’s important to be honest.
The Bottom Line
When it comes to making it through a DOT inspection unscathed, you’ve got to be courteous, be organized and be prepared. If your truck is well-maintained and your documents all put together, all you need to do is keep a good attitude with the inspector and you should be just fine.
As a professional truck driver, you know your job goes beyond the simple movement of a load from Point A to Point B. It also includes managing inspections and dealing with inspectors.
If there’s nothing to cite, then they won’t cite you. Follow the guidelines at all times and don’t give an inspector a reason to pick on you and you’ll be smooth riding down the road with no problems at all.