Rolling through a weight station recently we pictured in our mind DOT officers laying on the floor in the scale house yelling out to our truck, “Help I’ve fallen and I can’t get up to inspect you!” As luck would have it, the DOT officers were not languishing on the floor that day, and a guy actually jogged out to meet the truck, waiving his cute little clip board.
Drive a light weight commercial truck in the 3-car wedge market any considerable length of time, like 3 or 4 days, and you are likely to meet a DOT officer at a weight station. Light weight commercial trucks operating under 26,000 lbs GVWR are an enforcement target in most states. In this blog we intend to share significant critical issues related to the 3-car wedge market, none could be more important than a discussion of DOT inspections. One moment you’re rolling down the interstate under the illusion of a route schedule and the next thing you know your sitting at the side of the road for 2 hours. Don’t think this just happens on the interstates… we’ve been inspected at plain old rest areas, hotel parking lots, port locations, and donut shops. Just kidding, we’ve never actually been inspected at a donut shop but it’s likely a high risk location.
Surviving a DOT inspection is about having all the basics in good order, truck and trailer registrations, insurance cards, bills of lading, and a tight log book. But it’s also about not falling down on the basic set-up of your truck and trailer, with the proper GVWR markings, and being able to explain your trucks weight rating and capacity. What makes a truck and trailer combination legally under 26,000 GVWR? It’s not the actual physical weight of the combination (although the physical weight must be under 26,000 lbs) it’s the actual GVWR markings on the truck and trailer. If the 2 GVWR ratings, truck and trailer, when added together is 26,000 or less, you are operating a light commercial truck with no class-A CDL required.
Where we see new owner operators fall down on the weight rating of the their equipment is when they buy a used truck and trailer to create a new combination, and don’t realize the trailer rating may be too high for their truck. There are ways to fix the problem, but it’s better to do so before you hit the road than to find out your GWVR is too high from a guy in uniform at a rest area with a donut.