Most truckers are not aware of some aspects of DOT CSA inspections.
When I think back to my last inspection in the state of Mississippi, I realized that the officer had been checking things, which at the time, I didn’t even realize!
Things DOT Offices Look For – DOT CSA Inspection
1. Years ago, if a driver was pulled in by a DOT officer, the driver would present their log records, bills of lading, operating authority and walked back to meet the officer.
Now, the officers don’t want the truck driver to leave the truck. They mostly insist the driver stay seated in the vehicle, with both hands on the wheel and seat belt on, until they get up to the door of the vehicle. Then, they ask the driver to open the door and begin a conversation with the driver.
The purpose of walking up to the truck with the door open, is so the officer can look at the inside of the cab, especially on the floor of the truck.
The officer is actually doing a ‘sniff test’ for drugs and alcohol as soon as the door is opened, as well as looking for anything else incriminating on the floor. He looks for anything from an empty beer can to tiny round burn marks on the carpet or seats, burns from marijuana seeds.
Very small round burn marks in the carpet or upholstery are different from burn marks left from cigarettes. The DOT can tell the difference between the two substances. Detection of the small round burn marks gave them probable cause to look in the cab for drugs. If the driver refuses, the DOT can call the state troopers and the truck would be searched in their presence.
Personally, I’m not a smoker at all, however, I would think this process would give a tobacco smoker with burn holes in his truck carpet or upholstery, cause for concern.
I recall the officer in Mississippi stuck his head right into the cab of my truck.
The officer also looks for a clean and organized interior… sign of a driver with his ‘ducks in a row’.
2. Something else the office will do, is engage the driver in conversation. A nervous driver will make mistakes when talking, such as where he last stopped for a coffee. The officer will then check the time the driver states against his log book, attempting to catch him in a lie.
3. During the circle check part of the inspection, the officer pulled outward on a steering axle tire, stating that if that motion emitted a popping noise, it was an indication there were bad bearings in the wheel.
4. This officer’s vehicle inspection was very thorough. He even looked for rust or fresh paint, perhaps indicating weak metal, which would be a cause for further scrutiny. He commented that painting a rusty tire rim is sometimes done to hide a crack in the rim. Anything deemed to hide a defect is an automatic out of service.
5. Not having a spare tire secured in the tire rack is also an automatic out of service.
6. If you’re wondering if missing reflective tape was an automatic out of service…. The officer indicated that issue was at the discretion of the inspecting officer.
I know for a fact that Iowa, in their DOT CSA inspection,for instance is very strict on the reflective tape issue.
7. The officer said the number of violations involving faulty fifth wheel attachment to the trailer and unsecured tandem sliders were alarmingly high and something they focused on.
The DOT also knows the circle check is a weak spot for drivers. That’s something we as an industry need to fix.
DOT inspections are a fact of life in the trucking industry. Learning how to survive DOT inspections is key to survival for a truck driver.
Be aware of what the DOT inspectors are looking for and be sure you’re able to comply.
- Check out Handling a DOT Inspection Like a Boss
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