Truck Driver Safety and Compliance – Don’t make yourself a target!

Driving Practices

When an inspector pulls a truck for inspection their main objective is to remove unsafe vehicles and drivers from the public roadway. They are also looking to ensure that both truck and driver are in full compliance with federal regulations. If you aren’t in compliance with the little things, inspectors tend to look more closely at other areas. Here are some things you can do to keep from being a target.

Driving

Observed driving behaviors like speeding, failure to signal when turning or merging, and failing to observe post traffic control devices are a sure way to end up being inspected. After the officer cites you for poor driving behaviors they will want to see if there are any other areas of noncompliance.

  • Speeding – Always obey the posted speed limits even when the flow of traffic is traveling at a higher rate. If three cars and a CMV are traveling at the same rate of speed but all above the limit, the truck is more likely to be the one pulled over.
  • Lane changes – You should always try to be in the lane of least resistance but be mindful of how you get there. Failing to signal or changing lanes quickly and often is sure to grab the attention of law enforcement.

Vehicle

It is always important to do a thorough pre-trip inspection before getting behind the wheel. Make sure you are paying close attention to obvious items that will be easily noticed.

  • Tire tread depths –Look for flat spots in tire wear. You may glance briefly and see good rubber but the inspector will be looking for the low spots in the tread to take their measurements.
  • Lights – Lights, especially those on the rear of a trailer, are always an attention getter. Make sure that the 7 way (pigtail) plug is properly seated and making good contact.

Required documents

The things we take for granted are often the things that trip us up. The one day you forget your CDL is the one day you end up being inspected.

  • CDL and med card – As part of your pre-trip processes you should always double check you have your CDL and med card with you. If you have updated your medical with the state you are no longer required to keep your med card with you, but it never hurts to have back up.
  • Inspection and registration docs. – Keep the vehicle registration, financial responsibility and proof of inspection documents together in an easily accessible location. Check the expiration dates on these documents regularly.

Hours of service

Drivers operating under the short haul exemption (operating no more than 115 miles from your reporting location and returning to the terminal within 12 hours) are not required to keep any documentation as evidence of that fact. It never hurts to have your last 7 days of carbon copies to prove that you are exempt just to be safe. If you are running with an ELD there are a few more things you will need to make sure you do.

  • ELD required documents – If you are running an ELD there are two things the inspector will ask for right away. Your DOT roadside inspection guide and blank log sheets should be kept together and easily accessible.
  • ELD record certification – ELD records must be certified immediately following the last record entry or correction for that day. Records not requiring correction should be certified as part of the post-trip process. At the latest, records not needing correction should be certified prior to departure the following day.
  • ELD training – Failure to quickly comply with requests to set the ELD to inspection mode or to send your logs in for review can be a red flag. If the inspector does not believe you know how to do these things they may write you up for inadequate training. Make sure you familiarize yourself with your roadside inspection guide and that you can comfortably carry out the actions listed there.

Safety and compliance are number one priorities as a driver. Taking these small steps before you begin your drive can save you time and hassle later. Remember, no one wants to be a target!

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