As a professional truck driver, you know, when you are operating on a crowded road or highway, someone is looking out for your safety. And while some truck drivers may inherently take a dim view of enforcement, the individuals who work as enforcements officers on our nation’s roads and highways are completing a critical job.
On average, on any given major stretch of interstate highway, there are hundreds – if not thousands – of commercial motor vehicles on the road. Enforcement officers help to keep both truck drivers and passenger car operators safe. But what are enforcement officers looking for?
Watch Those Brakes
One of the most common things that gets an enforcement officer’s attention is an unreadable front plate. Once rigs are on the side of the road for an inspection, thin brake linings are also a big violation. With big hills winding through narrow mountain passes, thin brakes can be deadly dangerous. Enforcement officers are trained to look for them and they will not hesitate to dial up a violation if serious.
In some cases, if a brake pad on the trailer is stuck to the drum, it may not release when it is supposed to, which could cause major friction problems on downhill runs. Air loss could compound the problem, causing an even greater safety concern.
Here is one thing to note, while all troopers can stop a commercial motor vehicle for inspection, only certified commercial vehicle enforcement officers can complete a full inspection. Still, certified inspections officers can also write big tickets.
Trucks Can Do Damage
With the nation’s infrastructure under increasing strain, the increase in freight traffic does no one any favors. Cities and towns that exist along trucking routes simply don’t have the capital to maintain long term bridge and road upkeep, especially in light of inaction at the Federal level.
But why are big rigs so tough on roads? It is estimated that one fully loaded tractor-trailer is equal to around 1,000 cars on the road. This is where weigh stations come in. Weigh stations are used to collect data for pavement research and inspections.
If municipalities are having problems keeping their roads and highways maintained as it is, how are they going to install new weigh stations and inspection facilities, which can run $7 to $8 million to build up and put into service?
Following the Rules
Fortunately, most truck drivers and motor carriers pay a lot of care to following the rules. Fleets should come up with innovative solutions to addressing enforcement and safety. One such example could be a monthly breakfast where the entire team gets together to discuss new safety initiatives and road conditions.
Many fleets are already turning to this method and combining it with utilizing truckers who have a long-time safety record to coach newer truck drivers on what they should expect from an inspection or enforcement action. It is important to focus more on the safety aspect than the dollars and cents.
If there is one Golden Rule of trucking, it is to never put trucks on the road that shouldn’t be on the road. Enforcement officials do a great job at spotting trucks with low-hanging wires, dirty plates, cracked windshields, or cargo that has not been properly tarped.
The last thing a motor carrier or owner-operator wants is a violation simply because they did not conduct a proper pre-trip inspection and ensure their vehicle(s) was in proper working order before it hit the road. Stay out of enforcement’s cross hairs, but at the same time appreciate the job they do. Because they do it for you.