No matter how long you have been a truck driver and no matter how new or old your truck is, there will come a time when you will have to encounter a roadside inspection. It is easy for some individuals to become worked up and panic; however, there is no need for that to happen. Just remember, you are not the only one who gets inspected. Everyone will be inspected at some point during the year, so take a deep breath and try to remember the following tips to help get through it, get back on the road quickly, and without a citation.
- Always Perform a DVIR. Performing pre-trip inspections before you hit the road is always a good idea. Following a Driver’s Vehicle Inspection Report (DVIR) can help you check off all the right boxes on your truck. This report includes checking your battery, brakes, clutch, defrost, exhaust, horn, lights, mirrors, safety equipment, tires, and windows. These items are just a few of the things you should check. Make sure you also pay close attention during your own inspection. Attention to detail will pay off during a roadside inspection and it’s also a safer way to drive.
- Review the Annual Vehicle Inspection Report. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) Annual Vehicle Inspection Report outlines all of the same things that will be checked if you have to go through a Level I Roadside Inspection. It is a good idea to review this report before your area’s Department of Transportation inspection period every summer.
- Keep Your Truck Clean. Make sure your truck, tires, wheels, and interior are as clean as possible. Doing this may be the key to a fast inspection, as it lets the inspectors know that you are a responsible and detail-oriented driver. It also keeps everything visible to the inspectors for a fast walk-a-around.
- Know Where Your Emergency Supplies Are. Make sure you always know where your roadside emergency warning triangles and fire extinguisher are. Knowing where these items are at all times will not only help you pass a roadside inspection, but it will also help you in different situations.
- Don’t Rush. If for some reason you get waved in for a closer look during an inspection, don’t be in a hurry. If you decide to rush the inspection, you could make the inspector angry. Instead, pull in slowly, follow the signs, and watch out for foot traffic in the inspection area.
- No Radar Detectors. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration does not allow radar detectors; therefore, it would be wise not to have one in your cab.
- Make Sure Your Dog is Secure. If your dog is traveling with you, make sure the first thing you do after you get parked is to put them in a secure dog carrier, especially if they are aggressive or nervous. This will not only help the inspector do their job, but it will also keep your dog safe from traffic.
- Admit to Any Known Problems. Tell the truth about any problems you may know about and could cause further inspection. It is possible the inspector might waive the citations if you have shown that you know about the issue, discovered it recently, and are working toward getting it fixed.
- Know How to Work Your ELD. The inspector will ask to look at your Electronic Logging Device (ELD), so be sure you understand how to email your e-logs to the inspector. This will help speed up the inspection process so you can get back on the road.
- Have Your Documents in Order. Make sure you have your documentation organized, in order, and easily accessible in a binder or folder. You will need to have your driver’s license, registration, vehicle insurance, Medical Examiner’s Certificate, Record of Duty Status, annual inspection records, hazardous materials paperwork, IFTA (International Fuel Tax Agreement) card, and permit credentials.
- Carry Extra Equipment. It is important to carry plenty of equipment for securing loads. Loads that are not secured correctly are one of the most notorious reported problems during inspections. You’ll never be sorry that you packed extra tarps and straps.
The best advice any truck driver could get for passing an FMCSA Roadside Inspection is to simply be prepared. Making sure you create a habit of prioritizing the following items every day could save you from getting citations or causing delays and Out-of-Service Orders.
- Brakes that are out of adjustment or other brake issues
- Tires that are under-inflated or too worn
- Securing of loads
- Damage to lights
- Windshield damage or obstruction
- Oil leaks
Direct Freight wants to make sure that your trips are worth the drive and you and your load stay safe. Here at Direct Freight Services, we can help you find the right load for you. We also offer services that can make your drives easier, such as truck stop locations, mileage calculator, and trucking links. To learn more about our services, visit us at directfreight.com.