channel 19

Todd Dills

Profilin’ — not so stylin’ — at the scale house

| June 09, 2013

engine compartment inspectionWhy was I selected for inspection?

It’s a question I know many of you have asked scale-house officers time and again — the answers can vary from a PrePass random pull-in to officers’ focus on your particular kind of operation (tank, expedited, etc.) on the day in question to a myriad other possibilities. I covered some of those fairly extensively in the CSA’s Data Trail series, which was primarily ongoing through last month , and in particular in the March issue reporting, notably this story.

But there was one reason for inspection selection I didn’t touch on directly, but it’s one that has increasingly brought the ire of many an operator since the CSA program in some jurisdictions clearly invested law enforcement officials’ inspection efforts with a newfound sense of power and justification. Check out this comment under the “CSA’s Crash Flaw” story  from an owner-operator reader who reported having received 15 inspections in the last two years:

“I was told this morning after my second Level 1 inspection in less than 10 days that [the reason for me being inspected so much was because] I am an owner-operator with my own authority, one truck and that I drive a ‘Pete.'”

Sound familiar?

It did to some readers on Overdrive‘s Facebook page, where we posted the comment early in May this year. Eric Graber “got inspected at the scales in Perry, Utah,” he wrote, “and when the inspector asked how I was doing, I said, ‘Not very well. This is the fifth inspection in two months for my two-truck operation.’ He said, ‘Well, you guys must look suspicious,’ and when I asked what made us look suspicious, he just wouldn’t answer.”

“Sounds like discrimination to me,” wrote Timothy Wolfe.

Marty Sprague asked, “Where’s the ACLU?”

Another reader reported similar problems as a small carrier, as did Chuck Guintard, who said such disappeared when he leased on with a larger entity. Patterns of inspection analyzed as part of the CSA’s Data Trail series showed per-truck incidence of inspection was highest among the smallest, one-truck fleets, part of which can be explained by greater utilization among owner-operators, who also show the highest annual miles per truck traveled. Still, all this begs the question of whether FMCSA’s constant invocation of the CSA program’s ability to “touch” more carriers than ever before has had an unintended (or, perhaps, intended) consequence of giving inspectors license to hassle small operators simply for the fact that they are small companies otherwise “running under the radar,” as some of the government types like to put it.

I want to think these kinds of reported incidents are outliers, i.e. not the pattern around the nation but the product of just a few individual inspectors and/or jurisdictions, but I think I can say with certainty I’m not sure about that, if I ever was.

What have you heard when you’ve asked the question up top?

  • Daniel Kupke

    YUP Here is the answer that I was looking for boys n girls !!! I DON’T CROSS SCALES EITHER !! Stay the fuc out’a the scalehouses people !!! Go a different way n at least eliminate that possibility n get back on the radio n warn your fellow drivers about whats ahead !! Cruiseing down the road with the jam blasting or with the earplugs on is suicide !!! Yeah it’s a hassel sometimes to go around the scales but it’s a lot less nerve racking than going some-place that u have no control over what happens to u n your equipment or and CSA score !!! N yes I get caught usually about 1 time a year only because I fucked up n went to close to the scale to go around ?? But this is a lot easier than getting caught every day or week n haveing no control over it !!! ?? Don’t use the most obivious route ?? Give yourself a lil room !! Find out what is going on out ahead of u n get off of the highway once in-awhile n use some common sence ?? Even a animal knows that if it gets hammered at this one place all the time not to go there again n again ?? Drive through the nite ect ect instead of the day when everything is happenning ?? LIKE I SAID COMMON SENCE !!!

  • Daniel Kupke

    U R a woman n just like the cop pulling over a woman in a car for speeding they don’t hammer u like they do us ??

  • Daniel Kupke

    I’ve been a OO since 79 .. They don’t screw with oversize much due to the vehicle takeing up so much room ?? That has been the only good thing about doing oversize ?? They will check the permits n maybe come out n measure things but thats about it !!?? U a OO now ?? Not hasseled when u r a company driver I can understand that !! When u were or r a OO were u leased to a major carrier ?? If yes then that doesn’t apply either ??

  • Wilma

    I agree with you. And the other part of this process is that no matter what you do right, the 5 or 10 points you get back for passing an inspection in no way make up for the 15 or 30 points you got for something else.


    “please supply your DOT number and operating name on this board so we can research it.”

    so we can harass you even more

    I enjoy the anonymous nature of these replies. I think it is the only way the TRUTH gets told.

  • Jeremy Whitelightning Campbell

    Having run for smaller outfits most of my driving career (6 or less trucks) the response I have heard more often then not is “you guys have a bad record”. This “bad record” is due to the smaller outfits cutting corners and not keeping up on their equipment, over working their drivers and in some cases just not caring about the FMCSA laws. As for the “picking on the o/o’s. I agree. I do see this. When I ran for the only big outfit I have ever worked for, I got more wave threws then at any other company. For this larger company we would go through scales with lights out on occasion, and still not get a second look. I almost feel as that within 15 years if you drive it will be for either JB, Swift, or 3 or 4 other companies. The o/o’s are slowly becoming an endangered species.

  • martymarsh

    This is about nothing more than the DOLLAR, and if anyone says differently, they are a liar.

  • martymarsh

    You and Kelly are right on the money, the people with the money can buy anything.

  • martymarsh

    And the big question would be, then what are YOU going to do about it?

  • martymarsh

    I too have always been a clean person and kept my equipment looking good, but I pulled up on the scale up in Idaho and they called me in, I had a bent Lic Plate, you had to hear this guy it was like I just killed his mother. But the bigger problem, just the way you think, so do they, and honesty and integrity don’t have a dress code. There is always going to be someone that don’t like the way you part your hair, not to mention what goes on in an inspectors life, he may have major financial troubles or a divorce and is taking it out on other people. Nothing is that cut and dry.

  • Estes Trucking

    No, I don’t agree with that at all! We had a teal colored truck with hot pink lettering and a christian dove on the side. Very harmless. Yet, we were always getting pulled in. 10 inspections in 2 years!

  • mousekiller

    When given a bogus ticket or the officer is in violation of the rules have your attorney file a class action law suit against the officers dept. Far too many officers and I use the term loosely write a ticket for what they think the law should be. It is time to take serious action. Or depending on the severity of the offense he has written you for a law suit against the officer. Not his dept. He may have to pay for is own attorney and that is not going to happen very often until he and his counterparts get the message. Do it right or don’t do it at all when it comes to tickets and inspections. Now to get drivers to stand up for their rights is the real challenge. Remember if an officer gets too many complaints about his job and how he does it , it adversely effects his or her promotions and advancement and can lead to them being transferred to the other end of the state. That gets expensive for the officer and a lesson hopefully learned.

  • mousekiller

    After reading many of these posts I have come to the conclusion that a lot of tickets are written due to driver’s attitude and how they present themselves to the public and officer. Aside from the fact I have been behind the wheel for over 45 years. Lets face it . Far to many drivers today have no personal pride. They dress and smell and talk like a dumpster diver. They possess little or no work ethic. They have a potty mouth and can’t form a 5 word sentence without 4 of them being the F bomb .. They have a cluttered dash that gets the attention of the officer from a 1/2 mile away.

    They drive into the scale ramp at highway speed and slow down at the last possible moment ignoring the speed limit signs posted at each scale . They are observed driving with both feet on the dash swigging from a gallon jug that prevents them from seeing anything around them for at least 30 seconds while being passed..

    If they want to be called professional they have to behave like one. All of our problems with law enforcement and inspections are not just because the officer is a gestapo type or he has a dislike for trucks and or truckers. It is due to how we present ourselves and the officer only sees the non professional ones as a rule.How we present our selves is something only we can do . It cannot be done by legislation, It is an individual effort that will pay off in the long run.

    One question. When was the last time you pulled into a open scale and went inside on your own and talked to the scale master as an adult? You might be surprised what you learn about how some things are done.

  • mousekiller

    Ken , what you do is called professionalism and it does pay off. Just try to get that through the thick me first you owe me heads of most of todays drivers.

  • mousekiller

    I like that. so true . And the gear shift nearly touch the roof.

  • Daniel Kupke

    So Elmer what do u want this driver to do scan the inspection paperwork n post it on this page ?? U R a classic example of what is wrong with this industry !! We all need to stand shoulder to shoulder on these problems n support one another ??!! We r all in the same bussiness !! Other professionals in other trades support one another but not us so I don’t understand ?? Even drivers in other country’s stick together but not here in the USA ?? Whats wrong with people like u ?? U don’t realize what we could eliminate and how good life could be for us if we would simply band together and support one another ???

  • Roscoe

    As a one unit owner/operator, I was profiled as a “drug smuggler” in a station in Nebraska. At the same time the rookie inspectors were trying to find a way to earn a feather, they willingly allowed a “larger” organization driver to urinate on the tarmac in plain view. In some states, that alone is a $1000 on the spot fine, not to mention a slap in the face of common decency. The result, he was chastised and allowed to go his merry way while I was detained for a little over three hours. It took several letters to the Nebraska Attorney General before I finally got some vindication, although the sting remains fresh. Whether it be undue targeting of smaller operators, or just piss-poor judgement on behalf of idiotic inspectors, expect the trend to continue. It’s a vicious arena to begin with, and regarding CSA scores, simple statistical analysis will always favor those with more trucks and more drivers. It’s a mathematical certainty.

  • Mind Games

    Why ya gotta dis em??? Ya gotta give it to em they at least wanna work.
    If anyone deserves disrespect its our government for high taxes that prevent many people and or small companies from buying newer trucks.
    And they also get into bed with large company owners CEO’s to keep things the way they are.

  • Guest

    Yea but illegal Foreign Labor is stealing Jobs and freight from Americans is time for Americans to TAKE what is OURS…and get rid of these illegal vultures.

  • Jimmy the Greek

    Did you tell the inspector that oil and grease was there to stop the chassis from rusting out

  • Jimmy the Greek

    Did you ever think that some one up to no good would cover there truck with christian things , thinking that would get them looked at less . strives to maintain an open forum for reader opinions. Click here to read our comment policy.