From the Road, A Driver’s Perspective: Avoiding Citations in Truck Driving, a Truckers Guide
By M.L. “Pa Russ” Mauzy
Finally, the moment you have all been waiting for, my second article in which I said I would tell you how to avoid citations while just trying to make a living, driving a truck down the road. I guess before I get started I better put a little disclaimer in here first:
The information I present here is just a guideline to help avoid contacts with law enforcement and to minimize the damage once you have been stopped. I present this information just as a tool and as such, I take no responsibility if you are stopped and get a citation or any other action against you, even if you follow my suggestions. This information is not necessarily in strict compliance with Riverside Transports company policies either, it is just basic real world common sense. With this said, let me give you my three general suggestions to avoid a citation.”
- Avoid the contact. Obviously you need to be obeying the traffic laws to keep from being pulled over in the first place, however to avoid a random roadside inspection I always suggest that you keep your truck looking presentable. A filthy truck will attract the attention of an inspector quick as they feel that if you don’t take care of your equipment, then there’s probably something wrong with it. As well as the cleanliness of it, make sure you do at least a basic walk around inspection of your equipment at the start of the day and each time you stop. If you catch an obvious equipment issue, i.e. lights out, flat tire, etc, you will save yourself a lot of grief when an officer stops you.
- Minimize the contact. What I am saying here is once you are stopped, don’t give the Officer a reason to look for more issues. Again, that walk around inspection will help but mostly I will address your log book. We all know that log books are never perfect, as the company desires. Most Officers know they won’t be perfect either, but you can limit your exposure to some pretty serious fines if you keep you logs close to up to date and neat. Most officers will ask for your log book and if you are close to current they will give you the chance to catch up. Then they flip through the log book and if it’s neat they hand it back to you. A log book with a lot of scribbling or white out being used gives the Officer a reason to look deeper, trying to figure out what you may be trying to cover up.
- Keep a good attitude. I know this one may be an issue for some drivers. Just keep in mind that if you have a bad attitude towards the officer it can only lead to a deeper inspection and perhaps citations instead of a warning. A bad attitude towards a polite and professional officer can turn that nice officer into one a bit less forgiving. A bad attitude towards the less than nice officer can turn your day into a royal pain. Just a note, when I went through the police academy we were told that, “there is no such thing as an ‘attitude’ ticket, however”, they continued,”the reason to give someone a citation is to change their driving behavior. If you believe that a warning will change their behavior then a warning should be given. If it is obvious by their attitude that a warning won’t change the behavior, give the citation.” I actually had people talk themselves right into a free ride to jail when they could have just as easily been given a warning.
Just remember those three little tips, avoid the contact, minimize the contact, and keep a good attitude may save you a lot of time and money. Stay safe and I’ll be writing more soon.