If you want to know how not to get pulled over, ask one question. Why do trucks get pulled over in the first place? This certainly isn’t an all inclusive list of how to never get stopped. But it is a great place to start if you want to drastically improve your odds for an uneventful trip.
Remember that getting pulled over for something minor is the first step in a roadside inspection or a trip back to the scale house.
No Seat Belt
When you see a cop on that overpass, he may not be looking through a radar gun. He may be looking through a pair of binoculars. He wants to see if you’re buckled up.
Those cameras that look at you as you drive into the scale house are also there to check seat belt compliance. If your seat belt is the same color as your shirt, Mr. Trooper just may leave you sitting on the scale an extra minute to get a closer look. We all know what those closer looks can lead to.
Using A Hand Held Phone
This is a big NO-NO, but I see guys do it every day. The fines are big. The consequences can be job ending. Buy a Bluetooth headset and learn how to use it. In a day when you can make and receive phone calls with voice activated technology, this violation should never occur. JUST STOP IT!
Electronic logs are certainly going to cut into the citation revenue stream as far as state DOT budgets are concerned. The cell phone is an easy target for citations with large fines. Those citations could have more drastic consequences on your driving career than a couple of logbook violations.
Note: I’m working on a post about cell phone use. I’ll update this post with a link when it’s complete.
Following Too Close
I never understood this one. I’ve been through the Gary, Indiana on I80/94 at least a thousand times in the last 19 years. It’s the same thing every time. Trucks running 10 to 20 miles over the speed limit, and 20 feet apart. It’s one of the dumbest things I’ve ever seen. When something goes wrong, you’ve got a dozen vehicles in a pile, and they all get a ticket.
Don’t play the game. If the trucks are hauling ass, let them fly by. If Smokey is up ahead, they’ll draw him out. I’m not giving them my help.If the trucks are hauling ass, let them fly by. If Smokey is up ahead, they'll draw him out. I'm not giving them my help. Click To Tweet
Inattentive driving is demonstrating you’re not aware of your surroundings. PAY ATTENTION PEOPLE! Failing to slow down for a construction zone, then hitting the brakes hard at the last minute is a typical example. Illness and driver fatigue are usually suspect in these events. Be prepared for a serious examination of that paper log if you’re still running them.
Back in the day I’d have a big bowl of Cheerios for breakfast. I’d use Mountain Dew instead of milk. Then I’d balance it on the steering wheel and eat it at 72miles per hour. Not one of my proudest admissions, but I’ve done my share of dumb stuff too.
Lane deviation is when a truck drifts over the painted lane markings, or a truck that suddenly wiggles in the lane. Most of the time it’s a driver reaching for something, texting, or doing something else while driving. Whatever it is, it’s another invitation to dig deeper.
Make sure the things you need are close by before you roll. The coffee cup, afternoon snack or written directions should be right where you want them before you push the brakes off.
We all seem to know what we can get away with as far as the speeding ticket is concerned. Even being a few miles over the limit is giving Buford T. Justus a reason to pull you over and take a closer look. It’s not uncommon to be pulled over for being a few miles over the limit and following too close at the same time.
My big rule has always been to not be the fastest truck out there, and always leave enough space between me and the vehicle I’m following. Let Billy Big Rig draw the attention.
Lights Not Working
This one sneaks up on the best of us. The lights all worked when we performed our pre-trip, but now we have one out. Not much we can do about that one, or is there?
I drive for a company that requires us to always have our lights on. That “lights on for safety” thing. I get it. But unless it’s dark out, those lights go off before I get to the chicken coop. They stay off unless signage tells me otherwise. As soon as I’m back on the road I can flip them on again.
Maybe the last driver left you a couple of lighting surprises on that dropped trailer. Get them fixed before you move on. If you work for one of those companies that expect you to drag that inspection waiting to happen around for a few days, it’s time to find a new job. Those days are gone.
Failure To Obey Traffic Control Devices
Blowing that yellow light has consequences. This one drives me nuts. How many traffic lights even allow how long it takes to stop 80,000 pounds? Add the ridiculous routing that some companies force on drivers and it’s just a big invite for a random inspection. Skinny roads, stop light to stop light through every little town? No thanks.
Ignoring signs is another part of this one. Rolling stops, failure to yield, whatever the sign says, it’s required. You may not like it, but it’s there.
Proper Display Of Credentials
You know the drill. US DOT number and proper company name, base plate, IFTA sticker and all the other requirements. You should also stay on top of the state requirements in the states you only occasionally run. Some states require 53 foot trailers to be marked. Colorado wants the last 7 of your VIN. Displaying this will prevent a trip inside the scale house. Livestock, beer, tobacco and other commodities may also require additional stickers in different states.
I spent several years pulling flatbeds. I miss the work, the adventure and the satisfaction of a job well done. I miss the long hauls to the west coast with oversize loads. Every trip was an adventure.
What I don’t miss is the DOT cruising along beside my trailer. They count pallets and straps. They look for loose chains. I’ve even had them kick on their spotlight at night to see how well I did my job.
Even in a van, cops know where freight originates. It’s not unusual to see the DOT set up near a steel plant, checking for load securement in dry vans.
Most of us think we can just go around the scale if we’re overweight, but that isn’t always the case. In-motion weighing takes place where we may not expect it. Ohio knows the weight of every axle that enters the turnpike. Many obvious ways to take a legal truck route around a chicken coop have in-motion scales, cameras or both.
I talked to one trooper in Illinois who said he’d stand by the toll booth and watch the truck tires as they rolled through. They could spot overweight trucks fairly easily and roll them across the portables. Remember, they do this all day, every day.
Why do trucks get pulled over? There are really too many reasons to count. We’ve just covered the most common ones.Let us know what you’d add to the list.
Other Show Notes
- Buck’s top 3 trucking news stories
- Tactical trucker tip – container doors
- Your feedback