By: Steve Vaughn, vice president of field operations, PrePass Safety Alliance

You know the image: the crisp uniform, the official badge and nameplate, the wide-brimmed hat. But beyond the image, fleet managers need to know three important things about the officers who enforce truck safety. Why? Because truck safety programs don’t succeed at a fleet just because of decisions made by one person. Safety is a team effort. And that means reaching out and looking beyond their uniform.

1. Truck safety enforcement officers are thoroughly trained in trucking laws and regulations. It is tempting to think that the highway patrolman “just doesn’t understand trucking.” Certainly, the law enforcement officer may not fully grasp the intricacies in your particular niche of the industry. However, he or she does know the rules your company is required to follow. They are trained and continuously refreshed in those regulations.

Their training gives you two opportunities as a fleet manager:

  • First, invite a highway patrol officer or truck inspector to your facility to share their training with your own personnel. Hearing firsthand what an inspector is looking for in brake adjustment, for example, can drive a lesson home to your folks in a way no manual or video can.
  • Second, invite law enforcement to attend and observe the safety training you provide. Truck safety enforcement officers know the value of training. Seeing how you conduct the training provides them a perspective on your operations.

You and law enforcement have safety training in common. Share it.

2. Truck safety officers are focused. Highway patrol and truck inspectors work in a hierarchical environment. They get marching orders from above. The latest safety numbers drives those orders , telling them what needs attention. Safety is always the overarching goal, but safety results from attention to details. So, focused they will be. Law enforcement would just as soon see your truck continue (safely) down the road. They know you have a job to do. There’s plenty more trucks to focus on.

As a fleet manager, the intense focus of truck safety enforcement officers points out two ways to improve your operations:

  • One, stay alert to new regulations and to recent accidents. A federal adjustment to hours of service, for example, will likely bring a highway patrol focus on driver’s records of duty. Make sure your team knows the adjustments they must make. Similarly, a spate of spilled loads will likely result in truck inspections focused on cargo securement. Make that your emphasis, too.
  • Two, make first impressions count in your favor. A clean, well-maintained truck and a professional driver with all paperwork organized and ready may lead the inspector to focus on the next truck in line.

Truck safety enforcement officers want safety and efficiency. Demonstrate that is your focus, too.

3. Truck safety officers are cooperative. Truck safety enforcement officers know that highway safety depends upon support from truckers and motorists. That is why trucking representatives get a say in how the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance adjusts out-of-service criteria. That is why law enforcement will partner with the trucking industry when changes to regulations or exemptions from current law enhance safety.

For the fleet manager, there is one simple way to benefit from that cooperation: Join in. Get to know your local truck safety enforcement officers. Share your training. Demonstrate your focus on safety and efficiency.

Look beyond the uniform and the image and find an ally in highway safety.

Steve Vaughn is the vice president of field operations at PrePass Safety Alliance, the provider of PrePass weigh station bypass and toll payment/management services. Vaughn served nearly three decades with the California Highway Patrol and is a past president of the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance.

This blog was originally published in the IdeaXchange