The U.S. Department of Transportation (U.S. DOT) oversees the American highways and that vehicles that drive on it. The U.S. DOT heavily regulates the commercial trucking industry. Inspections are one ways that the agency ensures that the trucks on the road are safe and are driven by a safe drivers. The state DOT agents perform the random inspections. Despite the dislike surrounding random inspections, they do have advantages for the safety of the American highway system.
To prevent accidents on the road, drivers must receive an adequate number of breaks and rest time every day. These are recorded by the driver in a logbook, that must be updated at every stop. During a random DOT inspection, the driver’s logbook is inspected for discrepancies. Those who are driving over the federally mandated 14 hours a day allowed and those who do not take adequate breaks are detained. This helps to keep fatigued drivers off the road, reducing the number of accidents and fatalities.
The random DOT inspection involves a thorough check of the truck’s equipment on the inside and outside. The truck is weighed as well. Such a methodical process works to keep trucks off the road that are unsafe. For example, trucks carrying loads that weigh more than the DOT allows put themselves at risk of jackknifes and a pileups of vehicles traveling along the same highway. Faulty brakes, subpar tires and other violations also put the truck’s driver and others on the road in danger. The random inspection catches these problems before accidents can occur.
Finding the Noncompliant
As in any industry, there are drivers who skirt the laws with little regard for the risks. The random inspections are designed to catch these offenders and remove them from the road before they can cause accidents.
Each state sets the penalty for violations discovered during random inspections. A truck found in violation is held by the state’s DOT until it can be towed to a DOT inspection-certified mechanic. Sometimes the load that the truck carries is impounded by the state. The truck driver or truck owner pays a bond or fine in order to get the load back. Overweight trucks are not allowed to travel until they are properly loaded. Sometimes this means waiting for another truck to come and take on the excess load.
At the time of publication, fines start at $150 and go up to tens of thousands depending on the number of violations the DOT inspector finds. License suspension and revocation are also possible.