grain elevator

Soybean Business: Avoiding inspections

This story first appeared in the Sept. – Oct. 2016 issue of Soybean Business, the magazine of the Minnesota Soybean Growers Association. Click here to read more articles from Soybean Business.

Eric Sundby of the Minnesota State Patrol has a message for commercial vehicle drivers traversing the state’s roads.

“Don’t do dumb stuff,” says Sundby, a state patrol commercial vehicle inspector. “I don’t know how to make it any clearer.”

In the state patrol’s booth at this year’s Farmfest, Sundby listed a multitude of reasons why truckers are pulled over by law enforcement vehicles, ranging from minor infractions to more serious violations.

These breaches include but aren’t limited to: drivers not using a hands-free cell phone — “we still see a lot of that,” Sundby says — failure to wear seatbelts, speeding, distracted driving, damaged windshields, bald tires and faulty lighting. Sundby says all potential breaches share a common trait: with foresight, they’re easily avoidable

“I could go on and on,” he says.

And he did. Sundby also warned drivers to safely stow and secure their cargo; inspection officers are trained to detect equipment issues, spot leaking fluids, loose materials or product falling off the truck. Other causes for citation could be related to a truck’s faded placards, expired tags and annual inspection decals and no visible Department of Transportation stickers on the side of the truck.

“Then there are also lots of random inspections,” he says.

Sundby says there have been no major regulation changes in the past year. The best way to avoid inspection and unnecessary delays, he advises drivers, is to keep it simple and employ common sense.

“When I do safety talks for companies, I tell them, ‘Don’t try to paint the bullseye,’” he says. “Don’t do things you’re not supposed to be doing.”

Denny Hewitt, sales manager at Harrison Truck Centers in Mankato, says first impressions matter. The truck’s cosmetic appearance can play a crucial role.

“A rough-looking truck is a clear sign that you might not be maintaining your vehicle properly,” Hewitt says. “It goes right along with full maintenance of your car — it puts you in a lot better position.”

Farmers can limit the time spent on random inspections if they have all relevant paperwork/insurance nearby, and all necessary registration available.

“The key is having your truck prepared and maintained,” Hewitt says. “It can save you a lot of hassles.”