Every time a truck driver takes to the road, he or she knows that he/she might be subject to a roadside inspection prior to reaching his/her destination. Roadside inspections are part and parcel of the trucking business. So it is surprising how many trucks fail roadside inspections and are placed out of service as a result. The number of drivers being placed out of service is equally puzzling.
It would seem as though truck drivers would always be ready for roadside inspections given that they never know when one will occur. Between mandatory weigh stations, random roadblocks, events like the annual CVSA Roadcheck, and police officers pulling over trucks they suspect might be in violation, there are plenty of opportunities for drivers to face Level I inspections.
Bear in mind that the Level I inspection is a 37-step inspection that is considered thorough in every aspect. Each of the 37 steps represents an opportunity for a truck or driver to be found in violation. So why take risks? It is better to make sure both truck and driver are in full compliance before any journey begins.
Daily Preparation Is the Key
Truck drivers are fully aware of their legal requirement to conduct pre-trip inspections prior to departure. These inspections are intended to ensure that trucks and trailers are in safe operating condition. With this in mind, independent contractors and trucking companies can help themselves by preparing daily for pre-trip inspections. If a truck passes its pre-trip inspection, it should have no trouble passing a roadside inspection.
Daily preparation includes paying attention to the little things like tire pressure and tread depth. It means flatbed truck drivers making the point of carefully inspecting their straps and chains prior to, and following, deployment. It means making sure new drivers understand principles like working load limits.
It is important to note that it is the little things that often get drivers in trouble during roadside inspections. Everything on the truck could be in tip top shape except for one strap or chain, for example, leading an inspector to put a truck out of service. Yet if the driver had taken the time to inspect the strap or chain in question prior to deployment, there would have been no problem during the roadside inspection.
There are driver-related issues that have to be addressed as well. For example, drivers should be checking their log books to make sure they are up-to-date and accurate. Of course, this will no longer be an issue when the ELD mandate becomes effective in December (2017), but checking log books is still a good practice to maintain between now and then.
Help Is Out There
Being always ready for roadside inspections is not something that drivers have to take on alone. There is plenty of help out there. Where cargo control supplies are concerned, companies like Ohio-based Mytee Products can help drivers understand how to recognize when straps, chains, and other pieces of equipment need to be replaced. They can help drivers understand how to properly use cargo control equipment to maintain compliance.
While on the road, truck drivers can take advantage of free services offered at truck stops. One excellent example are the many tire pressure and tread depth checks available at truck fuel islands.
Roadside inspections are an inescapable part of driving a truck. Drivers know they are coming; it is just a matter of when and where. Therefore, the only question is whether truck drivers will be read your not. Daily preparation is the key to both being ready and passing whenever a roadside inspection is conducted.