Forms, Paperwork, Assessments... Inspections! Inspections are a part of everyday life for a trucker, Individual Inspections, Monthly inspections or annual inspections, all have to be completed for a fleet to be worthy of traveling American roads or most other countries for thsat matter. It is the worst case for a trucker/fleet to be signed off the road due to an un-roadworthy truck; many will be aware this can be very costly.
In 2016, The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration reports that 3.4 million motor carriers underwent roadside inspections, with 1.4 million receiving some sort of violation; over 40%! and nearly 600,000 being placed out of service, that equates to 1 in 5 trucks in the whole of the USA.
Knowing these figures you would think it is a no-brainer keeping your truck in order, but that's not always the case! Follow even a few of these inspection tips before you start your journey to keep on rolling through those roadside inspections.
A Tidy Cab: "Move Along":
Keeping your truck Cab tidy is essential! of course, some truckers out there spend weeks at a time on the road and can call it their 'Home away from Home' but does your cab really need to look like a pigsty? cabs looking this way will prompt the officer and they will have no option but to wonder how you maintain the rest of your truck. Officers tend to be reasonable about the cleanness; officers are not expecting Mr clean with his marigolds to welcome them as they enter the cab, but if when you open the door you are met by an odor you cannot miss, I think its time to have a clear out!
Keeping on top of your cab tidiness will only enhance the fact that your truck is in working order and give the office more of a reason to keep your moving on.
Make your documents accessible. You will be asked to supply all documentation for your truck and your journey at inspections and being able to do so easily will show the office you are organized and have all the necessary information you require. Paperwork is a big part of the inspection from your licenses to medical checks, Pre-trip to Bill of Landings, all are necessary and all need to be tidy and up to date, an office having to fiddle with paperwork will only prolong your time on the roadside and give them more reason to dig deeper.
GO PAPERLESS! Many drivers carry cell phones, Laptops, and tablets nowadays so all documentation could be stored neatly and securely in one place and can be easily produced by a click of a button, not only easy to produce but it can be easily updated, amended and submitted back to the depot. on another note, having all documentation in one central place gives your depot access to the same information as continuity is key with inspections! If a Trucker looks like their truck and paperwork are in good shape, then the chances of a further inspection are diminished considerably.
Strap It Down!
A general rule of straps/tie downs is that one is needed every 10 feet and in some situations, one may not be enough! Carry extra tie downs on your truck, the rule is a maximum distance between straps of 10 feet, and believe me, this is something inspectors certainly will check with the tape measure! Tieing down your cargo is essential to the stability of your truck and for the safety of other road users. More than one strap may be necessary on certain loads of cargo to ensure it is secure of movement and safe if ever one did come loose.
Carry spare Straps! not only for the occasion a strap may be faulty but this way you can rectify any issues that may be identified in the inspection and avoid being signed 'Out of Service'.
Light The Way Ahead...
Being one of the top 5 Violations for a driver and their truck, you think it would be top of the checklist! Always check and double check your lights! Head Lamps, Tail Lamps, Turn signals... all are vital to not only you but the other road users around you. These checks should be completed on your pre-trip inspection and again just before dusk to ensure no issues have arisen throughout the day ensuring keeping you rolling pass those night-time inspection stops.
Inspect before the Inspectors!
Make your pre-trip inspection count! Many of the issues that arise from an inspection by the offices can be outlined and maybe even avoided if your pre-trip inspection is up to scratch. Many inspectors will ask a driver 'what you have found on your pre-trip inspection for today' and if your answer is "nothing" then it only gives the officer reason to look and believe you haven't done your inspection correctly. In more cases than not there will be an issue with a truck, even if it is something as basic as a reflector cracked or missing maybe, these are not reasons to sign you off the road but certainly are issues enough for the office to citate both the driver and the company if they wish.
Inspections can be made easier for the driver by using up to date systems, a phone or tablet rather than the out of date paper systems. All information can be documented neatly and can be readily available when asked to be produced. Utilizing technology on the inspections can only benefit the driver as areas that need special attention can be thoroughly detailed and drivers cannot continue with the inspection until certain parts of the form have been completed. To enhance the information, photos or videos could be necessarily attached to identify the issue or just to confirm that all was okay on the pre-trip.
Pre or Post Inspections are vital to a fleet and can mean the difference between completing a journey and spending hours, possibly days out of service and losing money for yourself and the fleet. Make sure all inspections completed by you as a diver are up to scratch, easily accessible to you and the depot and as detailed as can be. To gain more of an insight as to how mobile forms can benefit you and your fleets revenue, take a look at
The 'Small Things' Matter
Don’t forget to check the 'small things' on your truck! A broken reflector, a cracked mirror... these may only be a minor part of your day to day trucking but can be something that catches the authorities eye leading to a further, deeper inspection of your truck all-round, its always better to find and mention something yourself rather than leave it to the authorities to find.