Channel 19

Todd Dills

Think you’ve got inspection frustration?

| May 26, 2014

Stopped at scaleOverdrive‘s CSA survey, conducted in March of this year, offered a bevy of issues associated with the enforcement and carrier rating regime and asked survey respondents to choose their top three in order of importance. Here’s the results (you can click on the image for a larger version): 

CSA top problems 2014 pollNote the second item in the list. Readers have expressed to me in past a feeling that the new importance roadside violations of all stripes have garnered since institution of the CSA program have thrown another wrench into the driver-law enforcement relationship. To the negative.

Some law enforcement agree, to one degree or another, and view the entire situation as unfortunate. First Sergeant Tyler Utterback of the Indiana State Police called it “the chaos” out there, often a result of what he sees as continuing misunderstanding of the system among some drivers and officers. For instance, as he pointed out to a driver recently saddled with an out-of-service maintenance-related violation after a full Level I inspection, the violations may be hurting his carrier’s Vehicle Maintenance BASIC score, but the otherwise clean inspection helped his carrier’s Hours of Service, Driver Fitness and Controlled Substances/Alcohol scores. At once, from that driver’s perspective, the violation — stemming from a leaky wheel seal that he’d worked with the carrier on to fix several different times, he said, in recent memory — meant $100 foregone. 

But in the end, law enforcement has a job to do just as the American truck driver. On this Memorial Day, as we pause to remember those who’ve given it all for the nation, you might also take a moment to do a little “it could be worse”-type reflection. Case in point: 

This Associated Press dispatch last week told the story of an Argentinean reefer hauler so apparently frustrated with the holdup he was getting at a particular food-inspection chokepoint that he, well, shut inspectors up in the reefer and just kept on driving. He was arrested two miles later.

Now that is frustrated, my friends. And a bit of intelligence fit for a Channel 19 conversation. Driver, did you ever hear the one about …

Here’s wishing a good Memorial Day to you, whether you’re running the road or working the grill …  



  • guest

    Now yer talkin! Shut the inspectors up in the Trailer? I hadn’t thought of that option…cool remedy for the inspection madness! Hopefully this will become a fad. A much needed one.

  • William McKelvie

    He SAID they worked on the wheel seal numerous times. If it was not listed on the DVIR he is in it deep.

  • Pingback: Think you’ve got inspection frustration? #CSA | iTruckTV

  • Big R Phillips

    And i’ve got the feeling things are gonna get worse if they keep turning the screws on us. Pressure burst pipes…nuff said!

  • Sedsaid

    CSA,DOT are just a joke.

  • James

    He should have taken their cell phones before he shut the doors,then dropped them off 50 km or so away in a strange neighborhood. What the Heck-the damage was already done-might as well do it up right.

  • Michael Meyers

    As an older owner/operator, I could care less about my CSA score. The customers I deal with know I do a good job and if I ever couldn’t get a load due to poor CSA I would just bring my truck to the scrap yard. What does disturb me is the increasing lack of knowlege of DOT inspectors and the lack of uniformity in enforcement.

  • Tom AndSheila Hurd

    In New England many years ago there was a Police officer who was systematically targeting drivers who haul wood on a certain type of truck body that he personally didn’t like. If a stick of wood was 2 inches past their road width he would issue fines every time. Most drivers complied and had the wood cutters cut the wood shorter, plus they worked harder to stack the wood neatly but most still received fines now and then until one night someone had enough and put an end to everyone’s problem. The one constant that no one takes into consideration is that there are officers out there who do not play by the rules or strangle the rules to death to get every little violation they can find. DateQ’s is supposed to be the way to identify those officers but I don’t suspect they get as much of a ding in their reputation as we do when they write up bogus stuff. The hard part is that most of the officers enforcing the laws don’t even know the laws they are enforcing, Sure they know their interpretation of the law they are enforcing but when I show them the legal interpretation of the law and tell them to take a flying leap they get rather upset with me.

  • Tom AndSheila Hurd

    I was in the Kittery Maine scale a while ago I was out of driving hours but I had dropped my trailer in the yard and was bobtailing home “off duty” when I went through the scale house, the officer was polite until he saw that I was out of driving time 1/2 hour before I got there when he decided that I was going to be out of service for exceeding my driving hours. I told him politly that I was off duty and would not be obligated to heed his requirement when it got a touch ugly. I then told him he could either call his superiors to learn his job or I would be calling the federal marshal’s office to charge him with unlawful detainment and kidnapping. He did make the call and I could hear him arguing with someone on the phone and very soon after he told me to get out of there and that this wasn’t the end of it, but it was the end of it, he just wasn’t smart enough to know it. There are many laws that people are not in violation of but get written up every day and the only safe course is to know the laws better than those who are writing the tickets.

  • David Boone

    I have noticed this over my 30 years as a commercial driver the officers interpret the rules there own way and we interpret them the way they are written that is one of the ways they get away with these b.s. safety rules written by non c.d.l. qualified officials and they are enforced by non mechanics known as the d.o.t. and when they do all these so called studies they refuse to use drivers just so they can manipulate the study to get the results they want and the results from those studies usually costs people’s lives

  • David Boone

    There is app for fmcsa for smartphones all rules and regulations are in it the officers don’t like that app I suggest to download it

  • g22p

    I think all inspector’s should have at least an eight grade education and speak English .

  • guest

    This article could use some attention in the editing department. I’d say it fails it’s level 1 inspection, but the good news is its not out of service, its just getting a notice to fix.

  • shortchange

    10/4 Tom & Sheila. Years ago I was stopped with a
    over sized load, everything was legal, but he was sure that he had me, so down town we went sitting
    in the back of a cop car was a first for me. This guy
    opened a big thick law book to fine something to get
    me on. After 2 hours he decided he didn’t have anything. So back to my truck he takes me an with
    egg on his face gets out looks at my tags an writes
    me a ticket for tags that are unreadable, they had mud on them, a 48.00 fine. That was 1977 These people have no clue what their doing, an as long we drivers stay a step ahead of them they nothing on us. They’re good at fabricating a violations
    Bottom line is MONEY BULL S–T walks

  • Tom AndSheila Hurd

    Every federal rule has a federal interpretation and examples of what is legal and what is not legal according to the rule but most officers do not read the interpretation and guidelines of the rule they just read the rule and interpret it on their own

  • Patty Cakes

    ” Uniformity ” …. it’s no more than a money maker friend, as we are nothing but a Rolling Tax Base, and there is the uniformity..

  • Patty Cakes

    Willie Shaw had a similar Scale House story back in the 70’s …. a few of his Indian drivers if I recall.

    Don’t recall if it was ever officially ‘ Solved ‘.

  • Tom AndSheila Hurd

    Anyone looking at 90% of the guidelines/rules we have to live by can see that safety has noting to do with it, it is about revenue collection, alternate tax income for the states. The irony is that truck drivers and carriers hold ALL the cards and they will not get together to make their own lives better. I have a doctor friend who works 36 hour shifts, he admits that by the end of his shift he can’t even think anymore, but it is legal for a doctor who is so tired he can’t think to operate on my brain or diagnose my health problems because that is how doctors want it and they will stand together if someone tries to mess with their way of life. They work 36 hours and then get to go on vacation for the rest of the week or at least some of them choose that work cycle and it is legal for them to do it.
    If the drivers of this great country pulled together we could make a huge difference in our own lives.A driver should be able to enter a work cycle study to be able to work the hours that he or she is best at, some people are better driving nights while others can’t, some people only need 4 to 6 hours of sleep while others need 10. A one size fits all work cycle law is and has always been insane but here we are being governed by the clinically insane who have the police to back up their insanity.
    I have trucks but stopped driving myself when the rules said that I need to rot in my truck for 10 hours waiting to go somewhere, I never could sleep more than 6 hours when on the road fudging a couple hours was doable but what to do with 4 hours setting in a rest area was too much frustration for me, so I quit driving.

  • Patty Cakes

    Not a joke friend, they’re a Rogue Tax Collection Agency.

    Safety is the least of their concerns …. the Insurance Industry will clean the trucking industry as they always have. They simply refuse to re-new or issue a Policy.

  • MrNA

    High hails to the true Independent Owner Operators. Another problem is not just aggressive officers but the Carriers most of us lease to suck right up to all the B.S. from the DOT/FMCSA. My carrier quotes “If you show the inspector respect you will ensure a fair inspection.” Question every memo.

  • Jerry

    O/O & Vehicle Inspections; recently, i went to a Detroit Diesel Location, W.W.Williams, Perrysburg, Oh. I paid the Company to perform a Federal Vehicle Inspection. They found a problem, worn brake shoe. Went to the Carrier to fix the problem. Next morning, i went back to the Detroit Diesel Location to have them veirfy the work & receive my new decal. They wanted another $100.00 to verify the work done…(At the time, i didnt have the receipt, Carriers accounting/billing dept. wont release their invoice till the following week.) Annoyed, i went to another shop, that location found a Broken Park Brake Spring inside a drive axle canister. Went back to the Carrier & installed new canister & recvd Fed.Insp Decal. Relief, can only be found in going to another shop, but it turned into an unsettling experience if the first shop had given me the decal if my carriers accounting didnt get in the way by the slow release of the shop invoice for worked performed. Whose CSA Score is affected…humph. The shop wouldnt refund the money for the first inspection. CSA scores mandate vigilant truck inspections: Periodic Federal Vehicle Inspections should have at least one free re-inspection.

  • Doris Ropte

    There are no 2 DOT officers that intupit the laws the same way. THEY think THEY get to intupit to what ever degree they want. Safety has not been an issue for 20 years! Revenue from tickets is their main motivation.

  • G bens

    Stand up and fight for us. Class action baby!

  • Dave Nichols

    find a decent shop. when we get dot annual inspections by our shop they stand behind it for 30 days. free re inspection as well.

  • Kevin J. Reidy

    Pulled over on I-70 in Illinois just as I pulled out of Vandalia for the day, state cop in the middle pulls me over before I even got up to speed.

    I asked him what’s up, he said “Today is you lucky day. I’m doing a Level 3 right here.”

    “Side of the road?”

    “Yep, right here.”

    So I did the trained monkey routine, all was well, he says “Here’s your paperwork back, have a safe day.”

    I asked him where the clean inspection paperwork was to sign, he tells me, “That wasn’t an inspection.”

    I asked him what it was then, he told me to leave.

    And that is how they fuck you, they only want to turn in bad inspections.

  • Jim Kennedy

    As a relatively new driver, I’m not going to say CSA/DOT is a joke, because, I rely on DOT to take a lot of bad drivers/vehicles off the road. These are the same vehicles that should never have been allowed on the road. The drivers/operators of these vehicles take it upon themselves to “risk” public’s safety instead of telling management, supervisors, dispatch that these same vehicles/trailers should not be allowed out of the yard and by performing a proper pre-trip the problem vehicles/trailers would have been found, long before DOT found them. Are we performing our safety checks, air tests, circle checks before those same trucks/trailers leave the yards? If DOT only finds good vehicles, everybody passes, then maybe they and the police can focus their full attention on the real problem, the 4 wheelers.

  • whooops

    About 2 yrs ago I-8W just after in2 Calif was pulled over & ticketed for allegedly having rear trailer tandems for empty trailer too far back. There was no talking to that CHP Ofcr (hispanic) & mere attempt to take geo date timed picture of wheel position elicited negative reaction & suggestion that he could write me more tickets. In fact, he insisted that I put rear trailer tandems in a position that was in fact illegal. My only saving grace was that my drop/hook load was only short distance away. That was expensive ticket all way around & Open Road atty in subject area no help on that one. Similarly, parking ticket from Hispanic female Ofcr Gardena when had 4-Ways on & just quickly sending ‘delayed @customer’ message & then circling block again to enter PRIME WHEEL as directed by their gate security. Shortly thereafter learned folks park under overpass other side of main boulevard. However, since Calif known for occasional earthquake, location not truly appealing. Both those officers essentially asserted, ‘sky green with orange polka dots’. Thus far only run across this Southern Calif. And, remember most police are Union & my company isnt. So, sure as heck really prefer dash camcorder ON there.

    PS: Find dash cam’ eliminates a lot of (bleeped) & makes aggressive drivers think twice about passing 5 – feet off my rig ‘ nose or doing tight 3 or 2-lane drifts out exit ramp.
    Now there’s a ticket (improper lane change) if given out lots more often, believe significant # of lives & property wld b saved.
    & Drivers who do this in fair weather may be at bottom of CDL-DRIVERS legal vision scale & in adverse weather conditions, they simply cant see properly at a distance & can misjudge their clearance in no small part due to bad habit of passing CMV’s & MV’s way too close (5-10ft). See likely results of this strewn across hwy all too often.

  • whooops

    Patty Cake, hav 2 agree. While Open Road normally gets ‘points’ or ‘CSA’ removed, the municipalities since began driving about 15 yrs ago hav always kept the $$. So, u got th@ 1 right alright.

  • whooops

    Jim, sounds good. BUT say 4 xampl, Some old guard not happy with who knows what & company bought by ‘x’. Those old boys @MSC put me in a first time for me OTR truck that was a ‘trade truck’ with 475,000 miles on it. Back then I wouldn’t hav expected to need to ‘road test’ a newly assigned rig that allegedly just came out of the Memphis shop. Rolled OTR & i40 East in Carolina in reduced speed & steeply mountainous area my steering wheel slam jinked hard out of my 2 hand solid grip & continued to jink around crazily in about a 6-10 inch circumference. I prayed for the angels to plz stand & protect my & others safety as went into & around tight curve. It was ssurely about a full 7 second count or more before I was able to grab that wheel. I’m sure the Angels drove that rig around that curve. Thk u, Jesus.
    Afterwards at next rest stop, those creeps directed me to nearby truck stop. And that mechanic said, they want u 2 drivers it to their terminal in GreerSC for repairs. Once there the steer gear box was replaced, steer king pin bushings were replaced, unblown shocks weren’t replaced, brakes were replaced, etc.
    It was working off school house loan (they bought my hiring company) that I learned the only phrase back then which if transmitted over Qualcomm, it gave ‘x’ company pause to do what’s right: I believe ‘z’ (whatever issue item) will endanger the public & op’ of cmv no longer safe & legal. Key phrase “endangers the public”. Mind you though that company got in their paybacks by never letting me get west of i35, never got to Pacific Northwest with them & (if I didn’t know better I’d say that it appeared as if):
    {1} wanted me to quit;
    {2} tried to dirty up my record;
    {3} truck was in shop way 2 often
    &still had same problem;
    {4} & trailers frequently oldest & substandard
    & doglegging.
    Another xmpl b4 i learned that phrase… One time going East out of El Paso TX, DOGLEG trailer & nowhere nearby to transload & so ‘x’ trk company decided to take off one set of rear trailer tandems’s wheels & chain it up & truck stop shop got wheels slid back further too which reduced 6″ DOGLEG. And fortunately it didn’t rain until after I got that stinker trailer in2 Memphis MSC terminal.
    Yup, love my smart phone for quickly documenting PreTrip, CTPAT, & customer product loaded & safe/legal to secure & seal trailer to go over the road. And dash cam &/or smart phone good 4 capturing characters hanging around truck stops who may be bird dogging 4 rigs/loads to steal.

  • David Jesse

    The Marshall’s don’t have anything to do with us , they don’t ride in a white horse to rescue us, it’s a trucker rumor . They Marshall’s job is to protect the federal court and roundup federal prisoners . I bet if you call them they will just laugh at you !the officer that detained you and put you out of service was a state employee , not a federal . He is enforcing federal law ! It’s called states rights! Look at the physical requirments , the Feds passed a law to go to a certified doctor and to put your medical card which is state issued ! We don’t have a federal c d l , go ahead and call the Marshall’s and see if they rescue you!

  • longhorn

    I have had many encounters with portable scales all over the South. The last FOUR times that I have been weighed were by DOT who wrote me up for much more than I actually weighed. By providing certified scale tickets, I was able to get them all nullified, but this took considerable time,trouble and expense on my part. These are the folks telling us how to run OUR business ?
    And they wonder why we have no respect for them ?
    They are driving good, qualified people away from the industry.

  • Ellilou Ilano

    If anyone needs to fill out a annual maintenance inspection, I found a blank form here: strives to maintain an open forum for reader opinions. Click here to read our comment policy.