Worse than ever, the answer would have been, because since the first of the year we are averaging 1 inspection per truck per week. Thanks to the hard working road warriors on our team, there have been zero fines from all the inspections. The increased activity affirms our contention that DOT enforcement has little to do with safety and everything to do with money. Why little or no inspection activity in December? Because all the trucking companies operate safely in December, and then forget how to fill out a log book in January? No because it’s 100% about getting a head start on the revenue plan for the New Year. Inspections generate revenue for states, and now even the local governments are fighting for their piece of the DOT enforcement cash flow.
We recently noticed a cute looking group of LOCAL Township motor carrier enforcement officers working adjacent to a major auto auction in Pennsylvania on a Sunday. Not the Commonwealth DOT, not the County DOT, but a group of TOWNSHIP CLOWNS, dress up in SWAT outfits and bullet proof vests shaking down a nine car hauler.
So as a Motor Carrier operating Hotshot equipment what do we do about the DOT shake downs?
First, understand that Hotshot operators are at WAR with all DOT enforcement authorities- even local townships. And all they want is to find a why to seriously reach into your pocket.
Second, be ready for an inspection at any moment you are behind the wheel.
Third, make sure your truck is operating in tip top condition at all times. All lights working, brakes, tires and everything on the truck is inspection ready. We even had one inspection where the DOT officer actually checked the oil level on a truck after everything else was in good order. Was he seriously going to write us up if the oil was a quart down?
Finally, when involved in an inspection make it last as long as possible… What? Make it last? Yes! We advocate the passive aggressive strategy of an intentional “work slow-down” during an inspection. Ask a lot of questions take your time getting documents out for the officer. Excuse yourself to go to the bathroom for an extended visit in the middle of the inspection. Never be confrontational in an inspection, but since DOT enforcement officers have no regard for your time, you should have no regard for theirs. The best revenge is a VERY LONG inspection that produces no fine. And you have done a very good thing for the hundred or so trucks that rolled by that officer while he was tied up with you. And then he has to work a little harder now to meet his DOT shake down quota. So the next time your stopped, be prepared to take one for the team and make that inspection last as long as possible.