By: Steve Vaughn, National Director of Field Operations at HELP Inc.
Professional drivers encounter law enforcement personnel when they are pulled into a weigh station for weighing and inspections. The driver plays a large role in how pleasant — or unpleasant — that interaction will be. Setting a professional, respectful tone right from the start will go a long way toward making any inspection faster and less stressful.
One of the key things for drivers to remember when pulling into the inspection facility is to comply with all posted signs and verbal instructions. Throughout the entire process at the facility, law enforcement’s primary concern is the safety of themselves, drivers and others in the area, so attentiveness to protocol on the driver’s part is key.
Once the vehicle is stopped at the designated location, drivers should remain visible to the officer or inspector at all times. As with any enforcement vehicle stop, it is generally recommended that drivers keep their hands where they can be seen. In today’s social environment, officers and inspectors must be concerned about possible threats and typically those threats most likely to come from the hands. Remain calm and assume positive intent, and the officer or inspector will reciprocate.
Upon reaching the truck, weigh station personnel will normally ask for certain documents including the CDL, truck registration information and details about the load. It’s a good practice for all drivers to always have all materials organized and ready to hand to the officer or inspector. It might seem like such a simple thing, but presenting the material in an organized manner will often set a positive tone, and make the whole interaction much more efficient for both sides. Having documentation neat and ready to be reviewed is one easy maneuver that could get a driver back on the road much quicker.
When the officer or inspector makes the initial interaction, he or she might not have made the decision to perform a full inspection of the vehicle at that point. It is entirely possible that his or her only intent is to talk to the driver. Driver cooperation, friendliness and having documentation organized could go a long way toward making a good impression. Conversely, delays in responding, a lack of organization and even a poor attitude could perhaps drop a driver down a notch as a candidate for thorough inspection.
Overall, it’s important to treat officers the way we want to be treated: with professionalism. Remember that officers and inspectors are there to do a job, and drivers should not intentionally interfere with or impede them in the performance of that job. For example, making agitated comments like, “What the heck did you pull me in for?” will not go very far in creating a cooperative environment. On the other hand, driver courtesy and adherence to instructions is quickly recognized by weigh station personnel and will build a far better foundation for the inspection to go smoothly. In the end, aren’t we all looking for mutual respect and a smooth interaction?
* * This article was originally published by Fleet Owner and can be viewed here. * *