A Marketers Mind by, Zack Pugh
A week or so ago Brent Presley, Luke Howell, and I headed south to Giles County for a Tennessee Trucking Association roadside inspection event. This was my first time seeing how trucks were looked over, and for that matter even chosen for inspections. What a great day of learning and fellowship between different transportation companies and the Tennessee Highway Patrol. It was especially beneficial to have Luke Howell with us as he is one of our professional mechanics that works on our trucks and trailers. As we stepped down into the inspection pits, Luke would point out different things that he saw with the trucks. He noted that the THP officer was diligently taking notes and marking inspections points on the tires, air bags, and brakes. It was neat to see the underbelly of the truck from our vantage point.
I also learned to not judge a book by its cover. One of the trucks we pulled in for inspection was an owner operator who had over 750,000 miles on his rig. And guess what? When we inspected the mechanics of his truck he passed with flying colors! We didn’t see that coming!
Here are a couple of notes that I took away from the whole day.
- Very few trucks actually get pulled in for inspection – We were at the inspection site for over five hours and during that time hundreds of trucks came through. Most of them got the pre- pass signal while others did hit the scales. Of those who hit the scales, I would say 1 in 30 was actually pulled in for any kind of inspection. From an M&W standpoint, with our super low CSA score of 29, add in our fleet age at 1.4 years, getting dinged for a full out Level 1 inspection (although not improbable) should not be happening very often.
- The Tennessee Highway Patrol officers are just doing their job- One of the most interesting things to learn was that the officers stationed at the scales and inspections sites are trained DOT officers. I guess I always thought they were just random patrolmen and the scales were what they drew out of the assignment hat that week. Not the case, these men and women are trained in all aspects of DOT regulations and information. They know what, when, where, and how to look at everything on a truck. If you get pulled in for a Level 1 inspection, get ready to be there for at least an hour. This inspection can take time, but let me say this: The officers are FAIR, just because a truck looks old and doesn’t have the “pretty” factor of the new trucks, things are not assumed. All trucks pulled into an inspection are looked over with a fine tooth comb, and if you have an issue that needs fixing you are allowed to hang out in the lot to have it taken care of.
- Attitude is everything- I drive quite a bit and did even more in my last job working in NASCAR. You won’t meet anyone who likes to eat more than me, why am I telling you this? I work very hard to put myself in the drivers’ shoes as much as I can. I forgo food a lot of times to keep rocking and rolling on the highway, and to get pulled off the highway and slow down would bug me. But to have to stop and do a full out inspection would drive me crazy! All that being said have a good attitude as these officers are just doing their jobs. They ultimately would rather do an inspection, fix the issue, and delay you a bit, then have a major issue like a crash or mechanical delay on the highway. If you are kind to them through this bit of frustration then I bet they will speed through their process as fast as they can!
So be safe out there while you deliver America. We at M&W Transportation are very thankful for you. Do your best, keep your head up, and remember you are the backbone of this transportation company. We will see you when you get back safely. God Bless.
DISCLAIMER: This is just my perspective as your humble Director of Marketing, if you have comments on this topic (or anything else) swing by my office. My door is always open.