By Dave Osiecki, President of Scopelitis Transportation Consulting LLC, and ELD Consultant to PeopleNet
The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance’s (CVSA) annual 72-hour roadside inspection blitz, Roadcheck 2018, will occur from June 5-7, 2018 throughout North America. Now is the time for carrier safety and compliance staff to begin preparing drivers for a likely inspection. Since hours-of-service compliance is this year’s focus, in preparation, it’s important for carriers to place an even greater focus on this with their drivers. But, before we get to that, let’s cover some basics.
While there are more than 3 million roadside inspections conducted in North America over the course of each year, many drivers don’t routinely experience a full, “Level I Inspection”. So, it’s always a good idea to remind drivers prior to Roadcheck what a Level I Inspection is, how to prepare for one, and, most importantly, how to interact with a law enforcement officer during an inspection.
A Level I Inspection is the most comprehensive roadside check conducted by a motor carrier safety inspector. It’s a 37-step inspection procedure that typically takes about 45 minutes (if everything is in order), and includes an examination of both driver compliance with various safety requirements (e.g., CDL check, medical certificate, etc) and mechanical fitness of the commercial motor vehicle itself (e.g., brakes, lights, tires, etc.). A list of the 37 inspection steps can be found on CVSA’s website here. Consider communicating and perhaps even reviewing these 37 steps with your drivers.
While it sounds basic, it’s also a good idea to remind drivers where inspections usually occur. During Roadcheck 2018, the majority of Level I inspections will be done at fixed locations off of the traveled portion of a highway (e.g., a state scale facility, an open lot designated as a safety inspection area, etc.). These areas are usually well-known, well-lit, safe facilities where drivers of commercial motor vehicles are directed into by either highway signs, or variable message boards.
With these basics covered, let’s focus on how drivers should prepare for an inspection and how they should interact with an inspector when it occurs. To provide good advice on these topics, I reached out to state inspectors and CVSA staff who have personally conducted thousands of inspections. In the preparation category, below are some driver-focused tips they shared:
- Make sure paperwork is neat and organized
- Consider getting rid of old truck and trailer registrations, insurance documents, etc.
- If older documents are kept, organize them in a systematic way (e.g., current year on top, older paperwork below)
- Make sure you do a good, pre-trip inspection of the truck and trailer before departing
- Lighting and tire violations are normally two of the top 3 equipment violations cited
- Lighting and tire problems can easily be found during good pre-trip inspections
- On electronic logging and hours-of-service
- Make sure you know what you are using—an ELD or a grandfathered AOBRD (automatic on-board recording device) ** See NOTE below on this one**
- Ensure your company has supplied you with sufficient graph grids to log your hours if the device malfunctions
- Have a good working knowledge of how to use it, including how to transfer the data or show the inspector the information on the screen/display
- Know where the ELD or AOBRD information packet is (or how to access it if it’s an electronic file on a tablet, laptop, etc.)
- Inspectors may ask for hours-of-service supporting documents (e.g., a bill of lading, a fuel receipt, etc.). Know that you must provide these documents to them if you have them
- If you’re exempt from using an electronic logging system, know what ELD exemption you’re operating under (e.g., agricultural commodity exception, 100 air mile radius exception, etc.) **See NOTE below on this one**
In addition to this preparation advice, the following are some tips for interacting with an inspector during an inspection:
- After pulling into the inspection location, stay in your vehicle
- Be patient waiting for the inspection to start
- As the inspector approaches, keep your hands where the inspector can see them—on the steering wheel is usually a good idea
- Be professional and respectful, and wait for questions to be initiated by the inspector
- Realize the inspector wants it to go as quickly and smoothly as you do
- If potential violations are discovered, ask respectful questions to understand how to address the violation, and how avoid it in the future
Inspections can be stressful events for many drivers, especially those who don’t experience them regularly. Understanding the inspection procedure, knowing what to expect, and good preparation can help to reduce the stress and result in safe, smooth and violation-free inspections.
** NOTE: If you are a PeopleNet customer, be aware that your customer service representative has model ‘driver letters’ that your drivers can keep in their truck and use to communicate to inspectors what type of electronic logging system they are using, or what exception they are operating under. If interested, feel free to ask your PeopleNet representative for a copy of an appropriate letter to use.