Even if you are the calmest and most experienced trucker, a DOT inspection can still cause stress or even fear. If you are following the rules in the hotshot trucking industry and you are doing your job right, there shouldn’t be any reason to fear or be stressed.
While many of you may have encountered good and bad DOT officers, in most cases, they are just there to do their job. Their mandate is to ensure safety and compliance among truckers. If you cooperate with them, there’s a big chance they will give you some slack. And just like any human being, if you agitate them, you will be at a losing end.
Here are some tips on how to best handle a DOT inspection:
1. Be prepared for a DOT inspection any time.
Before every trip, it’s important to check if you have complete documentation and if they are up to date. You should also know where to find them in your Driver’s Documents Binder. If the inspector will ask to see your proof of insurance, you should be able to easily locate it in your binder. The inspector is more likely to give you consideration if he sees you know what you are doing. Additionally, if you run on an electronic log system, you should know how to pull up log book information.
2. Keep your truck and trailer tidy and organized.
First impression is important. If your truck or trailer looks messy or disorganized and you don’t know where to find things such as your triangles, there’s a bigger chance that you will be wave in for a heavy vehicle inspection. The inspection process is more likely to run smoothly if the inspector will see that you have everything in order.
3. Be courteous and pleasant.
If you start arguing as soon as the inspector pulled you, you are off to a bad start. You can even expect that the inspector will subject you to a more thorough and tedious inspection. When face to face with a DOT officer, one thing is for sure, you will not win the argument. On top of that, you may even find your violations and fines adding up. It is to your best interest to stay pleasant and respectful. Do not raise your voice and listen to what the inspector is saying. If you think the officer is wrong, don’t argue (you can later take your case to court). As a rule of thumb, if you show a better attitude, you can expect to have a smoother experience than a driver who argues.
4. Be straightforward
If you found something wrong in the middle of your trip, inform the inspector that you are aware of the problem and you intend to get it fixed. Things could possibly happen in the middle of trips and inspectors know this. They are more likely to be considerate if you are honest about it. However, if you declare that everything is fine and then the inspector discovered something wrong, you are more likely to be cited for it.
The DOT inspection is for the best interest of hotshot truckers and it is important to keep a positive attitude about it. When you get pulled, be sure to stay calm and professional. That way, you will handle the inspection like a boss.