Even for the calmest of truck drivers, a Department of Transportation (DOT) inspection can be stressful. However, you shouldn’t be fearful of DOT inspections if you’re following the rules. DOT officers are just doing their job; most inspectors want to help make the trucking industry safer. There are good inspectors and bad ones out there, just like in any other industry.
Even if you are in the wrong for one thing or another, if you cooperate with the DOT inspector, he or she might cut you some slack. Here’s how to handle all of your future DOT inspections.
Be pleasant and courteous during the entirety of the inspection.
Keep your ears open, ready to take tips and learn. Listen to what he or she has to say, because some are a wealth of knowledge.
As hard as it may be, stay quiet. Just accept what is said and accept any violations you may get. Remember, just as you don’t like to be told how to do your job, don’t tell the DOT inspector how to do his or her job. Even if you think they’re wrong, don’t argue with them. If you must, take it to court, but don’t try to argue with the officer.
If you have questions, don’t be afraid to ask them.
Learn how to pull up logbook information
When the inspector asks to see your records. Many states now require you to carry a paper manual instruction book for the electronic logging device you are running, so it’s important to carry the manual in a safe place in your truck and know where it is when you need it.
Know the required documentation. It’s better to be prepared when you roll into a scale. Don’t be one of the driver’s who are not trained properly on knowing your documents.
Some helpful DOT inspection secrets:
- When a driver is pulled in by a DOT officer, he or she is expected to stay seated in the cab with both hands on the wheel and seat belt buckled, until the officer makes his or her way to the door. Then, the driver will be asked by the officer to open the door and begin a conversation. The purpose of walking up with the door open is so the officer can look inside the cab, especially the floor of the truck. The officer is doing a “sniff test” for drugs and alcohol during this time, in addition to anything else that could be cause for concern.
- If the officer detects small round burn marks in the cab, he or she has probable cause to search for drugs. If you refuse the search, the officer can call state troopers for assistance with the search.
- The officer will also engage you in conversation to see if you make mistakes when you’re talking, as nervous drivers would do. They are trying to catch you in a lie, so they will match the information you just verbally gave them with the time you put in your log book.
- If you don’t have a spare tire secured in the tire rack, it’s an automatic out of service.
We want you to handle your DOT inspections like a boss! Remember, always be respectful, aware, and prepared when you get pulled in by a DOT officer. It will go a long way.