DOT Inspections: What You Should Be Prepared For

United States Department of Transportation Seal

Most commercial drivers do not like the mention of DOT inspections, but it doesn’t have to be so hard if you know what’s expected of you. It is advisable to be conversant with the different requirements needed during the various levels of a DOT inspection. A DOT inspection is a routine annual checkup for all commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) weighing over 10,000 pounds to ascertain their safety on the road.

Here is what all commercial drivers should know about a DOT inspection:

Have your paperwork ready
During a level 1 inspection, the driver should be ready for a full DOT inspection and hence have their paperwork near as well as set aside enough time for the vehicle inspectors to go through all the vehicle parts. Some of the paperwork includes your Valid commercial driver’s license, Hours-of-service documentation, Motor carrier registration, as well as all the required permits. As a driver, you should be prepared to spend the better part of your day doing inspections hence minimize your day’s plans to avoid frustrations.

Conduct a pre-trip inspection
Just imagine if drivers took at least 10 minutes before commencing their trip to conduct a thorough inspection of their truck. Such a routine will eliminate various violations that can be easily corrected before the trip.

Violations such as deflated tires may be fatal if undetected, checking of lights are also critical so that you don’t find yourself in a tight spot when you discover later in the trip that you are having malfunctioning lights.

Keep your vehicle in good condition
As a truck driver, you should always ensure that your vehicle is in excellent condition all the time because it is legal for an officer or inspector to stop you by the road and conduct an inspection which includes your driver’s paperwork as well as the general condition of the motor vehicle.
Before a DOT inspection, you should make sure that you have your electronic log and other supporting paperwork as they will be required for a level 3 inspection. If you do not have them with you, ensure that you know how to retrieve them to avoid unnecessary hassle.

Securing your cargo appropriately
If you are a commercial driver, you know that these inspections can happen at any time or place and therefore you must be keen to avoid failing a road inspection. It is essential to check your cargo to ensure that it is well secured so as not to pose any security risk. Unsecured cargo tops violations by many commercial drivers.

Make sure you know your vehicle controls
Sounds obvious right? But did you know that many drivers don’t know half of what is on their dashboard? As a driver make sure you know all the controls available in your vehicle so that you can clear with the inspection officers as quickly as possible.

Be ready to take instructions
During a DOT inspection, you should be able to stay calm and follow the many directions that will come your way during the process. Try to exercise patience and humility, and you will be on your way much faster. Take note that not cooperating with the inspection officer will only increase the time you spend at the inspection site.

Stay proactive about maintaining a safe truck by being aware of what each inspection criterion requires.

Is it time to replace your safety equipment, your Hi Vis clothing, or perhaps some lights on your truck? Now is the time to get everything ready for your next DOT inspection! East Coast Truck and Trailer Sales is your go-to place for truck parts, auto transport parts, and towing supplies.

Fire Extinguishers are Required Safety Equipment for your Truck(s)!

Fire extinguishers are required by law on all trucks, truck tractors, and buses - except those in driveaway-towaway operations. Per the Code of Federal Regulations 393.95:

A power unit that is used to transport hazardous materials in a quantity that requires placarding (see 177.823) must be equipped with a fire extinguisher having an Underwriters' Laboratories rating of 10 B:C or more.

A power unit that is not used to transport hazardous materials must be equipped with either:

  • A fire extinguisher having an Underwriters' Laboratories rating of 5 B:C or more
  • Two fire extinguishers, each of which has an Underwriters' Laboratories rating of 4 B:C or more
The fire extinguisher(s) must be filled and located so that it is readily available for use. The extinguisher(s) must be securely mounted to prevent sliding, rolling, or vertical movement relative to the motor vehicle.

Not only should you be carrying and mounting fire extinguishers as per the law, you should also know how they work, what the ratings mean, and be sure to know how to use them should the need arise.

Class A: used for ordinary combustibles such as wood, paper, plastics, and textiles.

Class B: used for flammable liquid and gas fires, such as oil and gasoline. They deprive the fire of oxygen and interrupt the fire chain.

Class C: used on fires that involve electrical equipment, which means that the fire extinguisher uses electronically nonconductive materials.

Class D: used on combustible metals (magnesium, titanium, sodium, and others).

For trucks, buses, and truck tractors not transporting hazardous materials, one extinguisher rated 5 B:C or more or two extinguishers rated 4 B:C or more are required. This means that the extinguishers are rated for classes B and C fires - Class B meaning it/they can be used on flammable liquids and gases, and class C meaning that it/they can be used on electrical equipment. The 4 and 5 mean that the extinguisher has 4 or 5 square feet of coverage. 

Your truck must have a fire extinguisher (or two, depending on how you are meeting the legal requirement) and it must be securely mounted and easily accessible. You can't just throw the extinguisher behind your seat or leave it covered with tools in your toolbox. If your truck doesn't meet or exceed the legal guidelines, we offer fire extinguishers and mounting equipment to meet your needs. If you are looking for something specific and can't find it on our site, call us at 1-866-490-7278 and we'll help you find what you need.

At East Coast Truck and Trailer Sales, we strive to make your job safer and easier everyday. We have a variety of available safety equipment for your truck. No matter what truck you drive, we have the parts you need. Check out our towing parts, car hauling parts, DOT compliant Hi Vis Gear, or view our great selection of specials today!

Why Your Business Needs Customer Reviews

Your Best Salesperson Should Tell Your Story

You know your company has the very best product and/or service in the industry; however, no one seems to know this but you. In this era of frenzied business competition, how do you make sure people know what you do for your customers? Of the many forms of advertising and marketing, only one can change how someone "feels" about your company. Only one speaks to people, because it's by a real person. Your best salesperson should tell your story. You need your customers to share their stories - you need customer reviews, testimonials, and recommendations. With these references, you are now the star, instead of simply another player on the field.

There is no doubt that it can be difficult to get great customer reviews - if you simply sit back and wait for them. While customers may indeed love what you do for them, it's always hard to get someone to submit a great review on their own, and especially if you give them nowhere to do so. Negative reviews seem to be another story - we'll get to those later.

The truth is you have to ask for customer reviews. Somewhere you have an email list of people your company deals with. Write a personalized email (no bulk emails) to your customers asking for their thoughts on your products/services. When you get a good review back; and you will, simply ask the customer if it would be OK to use their review. Happy customers will likely agree to this, as they already appreciate what you do for them, and probably wouldn't mind influencing others as well. It's simply human nature to be an influencer. It makes us feel good about our purchasing decision when people act on what we tell them. With permission, use those reviews on your web pages, literature, and anywhere people see your company in public.

If you don't have time for this, find someone that does. Much as referrals carry weight for job interviewees, they are essential to your business for the same reason. Each customer interaction is an interview. You are "hired" or "fired" on the purchaser's review of your business' resume. If it is filled with recommendations, chances are good you'll be getting the job.

The beauty of this customer review system is that it also allows you the chance to correct any problems your company might also have. As much as we dislike getting negative feedback, it is a necessary part of business. Each one should be viewed as an opportunity. If you get a negative review from a customer, and it truly was something that was your fault, and an area you can improve upon; do so. Then communicate the steps taken to the customer. You become a stronger company with every review - be it negative or positive.

With that said, we at East Coast Truck and Trailer Sales would love to hear from you. Please leave a review on Facebook, Google, or contact us and let us know about your experience and what we can do to improve our relationship with you. As stated above, our best sales person is a happy customer.

More Calls to Push Back ELD Compliance Date

As the deadline for truckers to switch from paper logs to electronic logging devices nears, the heated discussion about ELD Compliance between the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and truckers continues.

With under 12 weeks to go until the deadline, the Owner Operator Independent Drivers Association is leading a coalition that is asking for the mandate to be delayed for two more years. The delay would occur as a result of passing the ELD Extension Act of 2017 (HR 3282).

OOIDA is calling for a delay in the implementation of the mandate due to concerns surrounding the reliability of self-certified ELDs, connectivity issues in rural areas, cyber-security vulnerabilities, and the availability of data for law enforcement.

Other organizations that are a part of the coalition are not sitting back and letting the OOIDA do all the fighting. The Agricultural Retailers Association recently asked the Department of Transportation and the current White House Administration to delay the mandate at least one year.

According to Richard Gupton, the Senior Vice President of Public Policy for the ARA, numerous agricultural businesses will not be able to meet the deadline. Gupton also states his concern that manufacturers of ELDs might not have the ability to accommodate the Hours of Service exemptions that are used by agricultural businesses.

The ARA did not end their arguments there. As with other organizations in the coalition, they believe that the process of self-certification will result in a misleading market. By leaving the responsibility of certification to manufacturers, any manufacturer can claim that their device is FMCSA-certified. Because of this, organizations are calling for a strict process that would need to be completed in order for an ELD to be certified.

Although a large number of organizations are calling for the mandate to be delayed, not all trucking businesses hold the same belief. The Trucking Alliance for Driver Safety and Security is a main opponent of the coalition. Lane Kidd, the Managing Director of the Trucking Alliance, argues that ELDs will undoubtedly reduce driver fatigue and the number of trucking accidents that occur yearly. He calls upon the fact that the mandates were continuously upheld in federal courts and Congress as evidence that the facts are in favor of the mandate improving driving conditions for truckers.

Regardless of how you feel about the transition from paper logs to ELDs, recent studies are showing that the industry has a long way to go before the conversion will be complete. A study conducted by C. J. Driscoll and Associates found that 60% of drivers logged their driving hours through paper logs, with the majority of those not having a plan to use ELDs by the December 18th deadline.

For more information about the approaching ELD Compliance Deadline, please visit:

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Autumn Safety for Commercial Drivers

Autumn Safety for Commercial Drivers

Autumn safety - wet leaves are dangerous!

Leaves on the Road

While the fall foliage is breathtaking enough to bring tourists out in droves, they're sure to be a pain once they hit the pavement. Especially after it rains, they can stick to the pavement and cause slippery conditions. The leaves may not be the only thing on the road, either - they can hide other more dangerous debris as well. If you see leaf patches on the road, slow down and avoid sudden breaking or swerving, since the leaves can cause hydroplaning or force your swerve into a spin. After safely navigating the area, be sure to call highway patrol or local authorities to alert them to the leaf debris so they can address potential hazards.

Shorter Days - Longer Nights

The sun is already setting earlier each day. Less daylight means more travelling in the dark. Most drivers know that nighttime driving is inherently more dangerous, so remember your nighttime driving tips. Make sure all of your lights are operational before every trip, and that your headlights are in good condition. Increase your following distance - distance judgments are more difficult at night for both you and other drivers on the road. Check your mirrors frequently and be sure to keep them and your windshield and other glass clean.

autumn safety - fall driving tips

Harvest Time

Fall is harvest season, and across the United States farmers will be gearing up for the annual harvest. In some states this process has already begun - with more tractors, combines, and trucks on the road. Tractors in particular more extremely slowly - other drivers should be aware of their presence and only pass when no other traffic is present. It can be a pain to be stuck behind a slow moving tractor while waiting for a chance to pass, but risking an accident is not worth it.

Winter is Just Around the Corner

It may not feel like it, but in a few weeks most of the United States will start feeling the chill of winter. While the holidays might still seem far off now, it is best to start preparing for weather before it gets here. You never know when you'll get an early frost or snowfall. Truckers should be prepared for icy conditions in addition to slick leaves and other dangers. Also be sure to check your maintenance schedule and make sure your truck is good to go.

East Coast Truck and Trailer Sales is here for you - we'll help you find any parts you need. Supplying you with the everyday tools you need to get the job done safer and easier is our number one priority. We carry OEM Cottrell PartsHi Vis Gearlighting and electrical parts, DOT compliant work safety equipment, and more! Check out all of our auto transport parts online or give our experts a call today at 1-866-490-7278!

ELD Data Collection May Help Truckers Avoid Roadside Inspections

Data Collected May Help the Trucking Industry in Other Ways

Mention ELDs in any freight yard or truck stop and you are bound to hear to a wide array of opinions from those that praise them to those whose language is best left out of print. The fact is that they are with us to stay and thanks to some of the data mining experts at 'Keep Truckin', you might find they are a more valuable asset than you would have ever believed.No one in the trucking industry, carrier or driver, benefits from time spent going through roadside inspections, especially, a time-consuming Level 1 inspections.

'Keep Truckin' has discovered that by carefully studying information collected by their units that the risk of being subjected to this nuisance can be greatly reduced.

The company began by focusing on four key areas:

  • Inspections by cargo types
  • How violations vary from state to state
  • Most common types of violatons
  • Time period of inspections
Roadside Inspection - CVSA

Inspection by Cargo Types

Shoaib Makani, CEO and founder of 'Keep Truckin' explained: "Nobody actually notices it, but the fact is that certain cargo types do get a lot more Level-1 inspections. There can be many factors at play, but we analyzed all data from 2016, and a few categories kept coming on top. We hope fleets can use this information to maintain smoother operations and prepare their vehicles for Level-1 inspections." 

Carriers Most Likely to be Inspected in Descending Order are:

  1. Driveaway-Towaway operations
  2. Fresh produce
  3. Chemicals
  4. Household goods
  5. General freight
The least likely to be inspected are those carrying coal, coke, or livestock.

How Violatons Vary State to State

While the regulations contained in the Safety Measurement System (SMS) are supposed to be uniformly used in the calculation of BASIC scores. Research by the American Transportation Institute has determined otherwise and this finding is supported by the ELD data.

Makani noted - "Violations are a big problem for fleets and CMV drivers. With our data, we found that different states may have varying degrees of strictness. And, if you are operating in states like Connecticut, Idaho, and Louisiana, you need to be more vigilant. Having proper tracking systems and electronic logs in place can help fleets and drivers prevent violations."

Most Common Types of Violations

Noting the above, it should not be a surprise that the most commonly cited violations also vary from state to state. But it was discovered that overall the most commonly occurring violations were:
  1. All mandatory lamps should be capable of being operated at all times (704,167 violations).
  2. Parts and accessories must be in safe and proper operating condition at all times (293,118 violations).
  3. Every commercial motor vehicle must be operated in accordance with the laws, ordinances, and regulations of the jurisdictions in which it is being operated (190,337 violations).
  4. The motor vehicle should be free of oil and grease leaks (189,981 violations).
  5. The pushrod stroke must not be greater than the values specified (181,320 violations).

Time Period of Inspections

Perhaps the most valuable bit of information that can be discovered from studying ELD reports is that depending on your location the majority of inspections seem to occur during set time periods.

As examples, 'Keep Truckin' offered this breakdown from the State of Kansas. In Johnson County, 78.6% of inspections occur between the hours of 8 a.m. and 2 p.m. However, in Belleville, KS, 80% of inspections take place between 3 p.m. and 9 p.m. In Sedgwick County, 53% of inspections are between 7 a.m. and 10 a.m. 

Roadside Inspections Heat Map - KeepTruckin

Being aware of what inspectors are most focused on for a given location and the times that your rigs are most likely to be inspected can be invaluable in maintaining a positive safety score. After all the easiest check to pass is the one you never drive into.

East Coast Truck and Trailer Sales will guarantee the BEST customer service and the BEST price on your towing parts and car hauler parts. Getting the right part for the job is critical in the towing and auto transport industries - which is why we carry a variety of products that are safe and efficient and will fit your needs. Shop online for towing supplies, auto transport supplies, or give us a call at 1-866-490-7278 today! We focus on providing you with great products and service to help grow your business. 

Hi Vis Clothing is a Must for Today's Work and Play

Most towing professionals, car haulers, and other commercial drivers know about Hi Vis clothing– and when they must wear it. Some people call them reflective vests – some call them safety jackets. Most truck drivers know that they should always wear it – because it could save your life by making you more visible while you’re working on the road. Hi Visibility clothing isn’t just for emergency responders, towing professionals, and road crews – anyone working on state or national roadways in the United States is required to wear Class 2 or Class 3 ANSI/ISEA approved hi visibility clothing.
Police Officer with Hi Vis Clothing - Hi Vis Vest
So who is required to wear Hi Visibility Gear? Accident site investigators, airport baggage handlers and ground crew, car haulers, emergency responders (including Police, Fire, and EMS), Forestry workers, Miners, Parking workers and toll-gate personnel, paving crews, railway workers, survey and flagging crews, towing professionals, and utility workers. Hi Visibility apparel is also recommended for bicyclists and motorcyclists since it makes them more visible in roadways. Hi Vis vestsHi Vis t-shirtsHi Vis jackets, and Hi Vis rain gear are all great choices to make sure you’re seen on the road.
Utility worker with Hi Vis Clothing - Hi Vis Vest
Remember – Hi Visibility garments are made that way and certified by manufacturers for a reason… because adding reflective stripes to uniforms or other garments does NOT make them ANSI compliant. Hi Vis Clothing must offer high visibility during daylight and nighttime hours and must have one of the fluorescent colors as the background: Lime Green, Orange, or Red – in order to meet the standard. There are additional requirements as well about the types of materials used and how bright and/or reflective the materials are.
Take a few minutes to check your Hi Visibility vest, t-shirt, jacket, or pants occasionally to make sure that they are still in good condition, that all of the reflective tape still works properly, and that there are no rips and tears that might disqualify your gear from meeting the ANSI/ISEA standards.
Auto Transport - Hi Vis Clothing - Hi Vis Gear
East Coast Truck and Trailer Sales offers customizable GSS Safety Hi Vis Gear – vests, t-shirts, jackets, and pants – with NO minimum order. Add your logo to your Hi Vis gear for a competitive price!
GSS Safety is a manufacturer specializing in ANSI-ISEA approved Hi-Visibility apparel: including vests, t-shirts, waterproof jackets, waterproof rain gear, and accessories. GSS products have been tested by most international standards and each of their products
Motorcyclist - Hi Visbility Gear - Hi Vis Clothing
These products are made with premium materials and are both durable and affordable. Ripstop fabrics are offered with some styles, using a special reinforcing technique that makes them resistant to tearing and ripping. GSS offers a selection of Hi Vis gear with Comfort Reflective Tape, which provides more flexibility over solid tape.
Check out the full selection of available Hi-Vis gear online or give us a call at 1-866-490-7278 to order your customized Hi Vis apparel today!