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?

  • No Reform

    Police State. Why is this guy with a Gun looking under the hood of the truck…looks pretty weird.

  • Jason Haggard

    As I stated the other day on a radio show, in the last 20 years I have NEVER been inspected while leased on to a large carrier or driving a company truck for a large carrier.

    Every single one of my inspections has come in my own truck while pulling for smaller outfits.

  • Jason Haggard

    Might I also add that I have never failed an inspection either so I ask why target me?

  • Fubar6995

    Wish they would just wake up this is the norm they target small OO all the time because they can… I have gotten to the point I just give them the paper work and just state I dont answer any questions… I have never got a ticket so screw them….

  • John Hill

    One nice thing about driving at night, not as many inspections. :)

  • Wilma

    I believe this is probably true because they have the least resources to fight back. When asked why they don’t inspect the POS driven by some foreign non-English speaking person, the California inspector’s response was that they would just abandon the truck and go out and buy something else.

    The small business owner operator is getting squeezed by the State of California for stupid petty bullshit violations by poorly trained inspectors with little or no experience. Like saying that the shackle bushings are worn when it would take a mechanic to take them apart to determine if they were worn out. Or to write the driver up for excessive oil and grease on the chassis of a 2000 Peterbiltt after it had just been thru the truck wash.

    Is it possible that all of this it designed to raise a driver’s CSA points to the level that puts him out of business and kills the independent owner Operator industry in this country?

  • MillionsOfMiles

    “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.’”

    Sounds like trucker BS to me – just another example of getting to say something without any proof it actually happened.

  • Jimmy the Greek

    I drive a 1998 century white with a teal green nose clip , haul haz-mat and have had 3 level 1 and one level 3 in the last 5 years , i am not leased to anyone and only have one rig , i pull a dry van and run 90% of my loads In TX and LA, from Corpus Christi , to New Orleans ,

  • Jaque Rowe

    Really Dude?
    Off topic aren’t we!?!?!

  • gary d

    it doesn’t even have to be at a scale house, in Corbin Kentucky I got pulled over, when I asked why he pulled me over it was just to do a level one inspection, the officer did it right on the shoulder of the road with cars wizzing by at 70 mph..

  • Jim Reul

    I guess that will change when they mandate night time rest periods; of coarse with intentions of knocking that guy off the road.


    i had an inspector at the AL-TN scale go for an 6 hours level 1 inspection with a flash light -and finally he found what he was looking for ( cross member under the trailer ) looked like it have a 1/16 of an inch crack =out of service for 12 hours+violation ticket in TN over $480 + plus on road welder for $580 and my safety went up to the sky.

  • Ken Nilsen

    I for one am getting tired of the whining. If you have proof, please supply your DOT number and operating name on this board so we can research it. The data is available to the public. Utilize it. I have been both a company driver and an owner operator. I have found that the inspections run about the same. I have pre-pass and drive by most scales. I am inspected more when I have placards on or am hauling over dimension loads. When I have a load that is going to force me into every scale, I am always prepared with paperwork in order, I am dressed professionally, and I treat the officer with respect. I know what they expect and have everything ready for them. In 20 years of driving I have been “hassled” one time and that situation was corrected prior to leaving the scale.

  • unclejondm

    I was given a level 1 inspection on June 9th on I-20 in SC just outside of Augusta, GA. I was the rookie inspectors 10th level 1 for his shift, he bragged about it to another DOT officer. He did no level 2 or 3 inspections. While driving my load to the northwest I was pulled in at all of Montana’s scales heading west and all wanted to do a level 1 inspection. I showed my recent inspection and 3 of the 4 allowed me to proceed. The other did a level 3. On my return through Montana 3 scales were open, all 3 pulled me around, none inspected because the other one was so fresh. I am an O/O in a 5 truck company.

  • catdaddy

    in 30 plus yrs I have never been hassled or been disrespected by any law entity state, city, or county and I have never drove for an outfit with more than 10 trucks and I”ve been a o/o almost half of that and almost always have run a pete. it”s all in how you present yourself and your equipment. try dressing nice and keep you and your equipment clean. you can sit at a t/stop and watch these so called truckdrivers walk across the parking lot and half of em you can”t tell if their homeless or vagrants !!

  • jet1968

    My CSA score is above the DOT “threshold”. I have 20 trucks in my company. Most of the hour of service points have come from general form and manner which means no miles, no to and from and other stuff that has nothing to do with safety. As I stated my hour of service score is high. We have had 1 accident with no fatalities and no injuries. Yet a company that has a couple of thousand trucks have low scores but yet they have 40-50 fatalities. I don’t care how many trucks they have or how many miles they log. Fatalities mean DEAD people. There is no way common sense tells me that 40-50 DEAD people is better then not filling out a log book properly. The whole purpose of the CSA is for public safety. The Department of Transportation doesn’t want to improve safety, they want to have more control of what small business does.

  • No Reform

    Yea they expect the American Trucker to be goody 2 shoes in all departments while the foreigner non English speaker blazes rite thru the scalehouse….they really do need to weed them completely OUT of trucking FIRST and FOREMOST.

  • Chuck C

    Funny … I am a one truck operator on my own authority and have not been inspected in over three years.I operate all over the country and don’t seem to have these problems .However I do beleive if you make yourself and your truck look like a outlaw or gangster you are liable to be treated like one. Remember if it walks like a duck, looks like a duck quacks, like a duck its most likely a DUCK!!

  • No Reform

    Yep they ding ur score because of secretarial skills…while they let the Student Companies get away with Murder….the student/clown cant DRIVE but is great with Secretarial Duties…the CSA is basically a sickening JOKE…rookie cops prancing around with a clip board telling vetran truckers where they are going WRONG in life? It is way beyond rediculous……

  • Gearjamn

    Well as an owner op with my own authority I find the above to be very true. I have been inspected over 30 times in 3 years after getting my authority. My truck is just a late model Volvo nothing out of the ordinary. I have had I believe 5 violations, but the funny thing is when they find no violations they do not make a report and file it they just send me on my way giving me NO paper work to prove the inspection ever happened other than my logs. They just send me on my way. This way a Passed inspection will not offset the failed inspections. How many others of you have had this happen ? I think there should be a class action suit filed against the CSA and Federal DOT for Harassment and discrimination. The constitution gives us the freedom to pursue happiness and a job with the freedom from discrimination. What they are doing is WRONG. And to those of you that have been sliding through believe me they will soon target you as well. They are trying to put us out of business. This is their whole goal. They want independents off the road. They want BIG companies whom they can have better control over this is their plan

  • david

    you can tell that guy is races

  • markw40

    Absolutely this is the case, and to go one step further ironically last year the state of Pennsylvania where I reside stepped up their fuel tax audits, apportioned mileage audits on small operators. Myself and about five others all audited at the same time and to be told its random, yeah right! Leased to a bigger carrier and ironically all is quite now. Definitally trying to run small operators out this is a no brainer!

  • Keith Zimmerman

    agree totally with your last sentence.

  • MW Girl

    It appears to me that many taunt the officers with the “Bad Boy” image and then cry foul. Same here very few level 1 inspections in the past 5 years. Running a clean working truck has its rewards.

  • SkullyF97

    I am an owner op in Alabama, and we had a run to Mississippi and back every night. At the new scalehouse in Meridian ,we would be stopped every two or three days keeping us in their scalehouse for over an hour each time. We had at least 20, yes twenty inspections in just 6 months. each time by a different inspector. I called the mississippi DOT and talked to a lieutienant and he told me the reason was that they trained their new officers at their location.. I asked them what they trained them to do, harrass people trying to make a living by driving a truck. FED UP in Birmingham !!

  • Danhollis

    What is mandated night time rest?

  • Todd Dills

    Hear you, Chuck. Though about you when I was writing this. You’re not alone in your thinking — Check out some of the comments near the bottom of the post here — many of the operators I talk with day to day report simple practices like reduction of clutter, treating officer like you would yourself, etc., and of course keeping on top of the truck washes and maintenance and all else, etc… keep them pretty well out of inspections. I do seem to hear more stories, though, of the kinds of things I wrote about here as time goes on. Some have suggested, however, that the “hassle factor,” for lack of a better term, is not near as bad as it was 10-15 years ago — others say the opposite.

  • jkb

    GA scale could not find any problems with my truck so he gave me a violation for having some stuff laying between my seats said would not hurt me in any way at all (wrong ) got me 6 csa points and called into the company i leased with for another insp

  • Bob

    I run 5 trucks. My driver gets pulled in at I75 North bound Michigan. Told driver he had an air leak from Tractor to Trailer. My driver is kinda hard hearing and asked where it was leaking because he could not hear it. DOT would not show him.

  • Bob

    You are correct JET !! Its about control not safety !!

  • Bob

    I am not saying the air line was not leaking !! But was it ??
    That’s being safe when your on the Emergency Strip for an Inspection !! Another time DOT Ohio could not find anything wrong except a windshield washer passenger side plugged up. Driver had it fixed in just a few. Still got wrote up. No ticket. pick pick pick.

  • Jimmy the Greek

    The tractor only has 760000 miles however it does need paint, lol the shop i use sead it is as goos as any 3 year old tractor on the road , I have been running it for a little over ten years , however i run less than 50,000 miles a year

  • Jimmy the Greek

    They pull that crap in Louisiana all the time !

  • Jimmy the Greek

    They should try Airing up the drivers seat ,so the truck dont look like it has no one driving it lol

  • No Reform

    Heck yea…the Stooges they hire have to be taken care of by getting a gov job they were probably on compensation for being retarded…scalehouse cops are total morons.

  • No Reform

    The future is being programmed today…Trucks will be Monitored top to bottom..drivers under a microscope…Obediant Drones….no more independece or freedom..all gone…with technolgy only MORE mointoring and Obediance will be in Place. Everyday a salesman is selling some Monitoring Device to a Gov Agency for huge Profits to him and his company…expect alot MORE ro come.

  • kelley

    you guys are all missing the basic problem…..the ATA, and the unions….they are the one’s who have pushed this whole fmsca dog and pony show upon us, trying to level the playing field…..they cannot control their drivers without it, and o/o’s are flat taking business away from them….big money gets the government’s attention, not us little guys whining….none of this is about safety, people……it’s bare bones dollars and cents….and more government jobs….it all blends together…’re just lying to yourselves if you think different…..ooida’s trying, but they’re barking up the safety tree, not the money one, and will lose, in the end…it will never get better….conform, comply, or get out…those are our choices…..we’ve lost the war

  • DE_from_NC

    The “To & from” is NOT required and hasn’t been since like two revisions ago although the lines are still there on most log books. Whoever wrote you up for that needs to be fired because they certainly DON’T know their job.

  • DE_from_NC

    Well, everybody has a story to tell and I’m glad you guys think your suggestions ACTUALLY WORK. I too have my own authority, stay on top of my maintenance and although I do a lot of job site deliveries, try and keep the truck clean, show officers respect and such. Had one in VA “just make it up” on the side of the road, said I had an air leak in the red emergency line on the trailer that EVEN ROAD SERVICE THAT WAS CALLED OUT SAID HE COULDN’T FIND IT EITHER !! I had him put a new line on from front to back, and $437 later I left with an OOS scar on my MC number. So I am glad for you that your “formula” works, and I hope you never run up on what I simply label “power tripping revenue Gestapo” because that’s what they are. I’d also say, you’re DAMN LUCKY !! In this day and age of municipalities teetering on bankruptcy, I tell my buddies “It’s like the moonshining hayday, we’re just driving a 55 gallon barrel o’ liquor” down the road as far as using us as a “stay out of bankruptcy” ATM machine. I wish you continued success but don’t think for a minute it always works as you say, I’m living proof. I got f****d with a badge simply because he could. And he’ll continue to do it because there is NEVER hardly any reprimanding for this type of ILLEGAL behavior. And I’ll guarandamntee the “hassle factor” is alive and well and GROWING !

  • DE_from_NC

    Maryland does the same thing at that little scale on 301 in Upper Marlboro and some on the one on I-68 near Cumberland, have been hassled at both. I don’t cross ANY scale if I can go another way that don’t add too many miles or isn’t loaded with stop lights.

  • QQTrick1QQ .

    I wonder if they thought of how many more trucks that will push into a already over crowded daytime driving.

  • QQTrick1QQ .

    Reset will be two consecutive days at your home terminal between 1am and 5am every week. And you have to log a half hour break in the first 8 hours.

  • QQTrick1QQ .
  • jet1968

    You are right about the “to and from”. I was just using that as an example. Such as mileage, shipper info, truck info, terminal address, driver vehicle inspection, all of which have nothing to do with safety but they assign points to the CSA score.

  • jet1968

    You might not be inspected but that isn’t the point. Large companies are not scored the same as small carriers. Check out large companies scores. Low scores yet they have multiple fatalities, and a percentage of drug use. I will give you an example- Swift Transportation 42 fatalities their controlled substance is at 37.5 %.. It is basically the same with all large carriers. By looking at that part of their scores they seem to be doped up drivers running over people and killing them. Does that mean every driver that drives for SWIFT is doped up and killing people. No it doesn’t So no if it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck it doesn’t mean that it is a duck. Keep in mind these same large carriers are the ones pushing for EOBRs and higher insurance rates{ even though must are self insured and it won’t effect them. Just when you think you have this business by the tail Mr 1 truck operation watch out because it will effect you too.

  • jet1968

    ATA and unions are not the only ones. Google Trucking Alliance. That consists of Schnieder, JB Hunt, Knight, Maverick and a few others. They are are pushing for EOBRs and higher insurance for carriers. The greedy large carriers don’t want you out here. If you are not here that means more business they can get. If they can clear 1000 per truck per year then they will make 1.5 million dollars. If you clear 1000 per year you will starve to death.

  • jet1968

    This country was born from vagrants and people fleeing political prosecution. Individualism built the country that you live in. Just recently it has become a police state against individualism.

  • jet1968

    Another way to show that the whole CSA thing has nothing to do with safety is this. A company gets more points assigned to them for a driver sitting at a stop light and not wearing a seat belt, 7 points, then if the driver runs the stop light , 5 points.

    Gets the same amount of points, 7 points. then if a driver gets caught driving 14 miles above the speed limit which will get you 7 points. Seat belts have absolutely nothing to do with public safety. driver safety maybe public safety absolutely not.

    7 points for not wearing a seatbelt

    10 points for possession of dope

    15 points for being doped up or drunk
    Seat belts are nothing more then for law enforcement an excuse to pull you over not that they actually use an excuse.

  • jet1968

    Not only should the driver treat the officer with respect they in turn should be treated with respect by the officer.

  • jet1968

    Might be that truck driver looks like a vagrant. Or that truck he is inspecting belongs to a small carrier and therefore they need the Gestapo touch. strives to maintain an open forum for reader opinions. Click here to read our comment policy.