DOT inspections are part of the daily life of a truck driver. Weigh stations and DOT Inspectors should not be feared. If you are running legal, as you should be; your equipment is well maintained and you have done your pre-trip inspection – getting through an inspection should be a breeze.
Just as you have a job to do, so to DOT Officials. It is part of your job to remain safe and legal and to operate within the regulations set out for the industry. It is an inspectors job to ensure that we are following the rules and keeping the roadways safe.
Most DOT inspectors carry out their job helping to maintain and keep the industry safe while few use it as an opportunity to wield the power granted to them. Certain states are more lenient giving DOT Officials the ability to give a warning for simple, minor infractions; while other states are not and a ticket is written no matter the issue. If we put this in perspective – really it is the drivers’ responsibility to ensure that they don’t receive tickets or warnings because it is part of your duty as a driver to stay legal and operate equipment that is in tip top shape.
How to Get Through a DOT Inspection
A lot of what happens during a DOT Inspection depends on the driver. We all know that some drivers get off with warnings while other’s seem to get ticketed for the same minor infraction. A lot of what happens depends on the drivers’ attitude, where minor infractions are found. When serious infraction are found that means you’re getting a ticket and guess what – that’s on you and you alone.
Be Pleasant. Going through your inspection complaining, criticizing, arguing, fighting and shouting at an inspector probably means you’re walking away with a ticket.
Listen to the inspector and ask intelligent questions. Show them that you know your job and that you do take safety seriously. Listen to what inspectors say and don’t just simply write it off as inspector nonsense – it makes you look like a bad driver. If you have questions, make sure they are intelligent ones and that you’re not just talking for the sake of talking.
Just be quiet and let the inspector do the job. As a driver, you know that you hate it when people get in your face and tell you how things should be done. Inspectors know what they are doing, so just shut up and let them do it.
Do not argue with DOT Inspectors. Even if or when you know that you are getting a ticket or warning that isn’t justified, arguing with the inspector is going to get you nowhere fast. If you feel you’ve been wronged, speak with your safety manager who will help you resolve the situation in a professional manner.
Know your stuff. Be familiar with everything that the inspector could question you on or ask to see. If you are unfamiliar with the job and the equipment and the paperwork, chances are you are going to get fined for not producing what you are asked for.
Know how to pull up your log book information. E-logs are changing the way drivers produce their HOS information. If you’re on them, know how to get the information quickly. If you haven’t made the switch yet, make sure your log books are up to date.
Be Prepared. Don’t keep a DOT Inspector waiting while you sit in your truck and gather up everything you need to go in. Keep your documents organized, in one place so you can simply scoop it up and head inside.