I was recently asked if I had any good stories about weigh stations, and though at the time I couldn’t think of too many, since then I’ve been mulling it over and as it turns out I have seen some funny stuff and had some entertaining and informative moments there at the weigh stations and on roadside inspections.
So, as promised, this is the topic of my post today.
My first inspection out on the road happened in Tennessee. I was headed back from my second load ever (I think anyway) and had high hopes of getting my return load delivered and making it home before a big snowstorm that was bearing down on Oklahoma could snow me in somewhere other than home. Needless to say I was pretty disgusted at being stopped for an inspection when I was so intent on making tracks, but I was also pretty nervous, as I had no idea what to expect.
As it turned out, my inspection was pretty quick, the officer came out and ran me through all of the typical stuff, lights, horn, wipers, etc., then told me to bring in my log book and permits. I gathered all of that up and went in to the office, and the officer started going through my paperwork when another driver came in with his book.
Although he could clearly see the officer was going over my books, the guy started squawking in broken English with some foreign accent (but don’t ask me what his native language might have been cause I have not a clue…) about how long he was having to wait, and sure enough, as they say, crying babies get fed… so…
The officer asked me to wait a minute while he checked out the other guy’s book, which I did, and much to my amusement, the guy’s impatience was the undoing of him. After a few questions from the DOT officer it was pretty apparent that the driver was hauling haz-mat and had no permit, no haz-mat endorsement, and there were other glaring problems with his load.
At that point, the officer turned back to me and cut me loose, handing my books back with a smile, and I couldn’t help but wonder how long that other driver’s truck ended up sitting there in the parking lot after he’d been hauled off to the pokey…
On another trip I was entering Kansas and felt pretty confident all my ducks were in a row until I got called in to the station, that is. The officer asked me where my IFTA sticker was on the driver side of the truck. It was only at that moment I realized that the sticker in question was probably in some junk heap along with the door it had been sticking to… I had crashed the door and had it replaced the week before. I sheepishly explained the absent sticker to the officer and pointed out that there was one on the opposite side, but that wasn’t quite good enough so I got to pay for a permit ($15 if I remember rightly) to travel through Kansas that day. Needless to say, I got the problem fixed before taking the truck out on my next load.
It must have been my fifth or sixth trip into Colorado when one friendly DOT officer informed me that I wouldn’t get called in every time I crossed their scales if I just had the last several digits of my VIN posted on the truck. I asked him if he was sick of seeing me and he was nice enough to laugh even though I’m sure it was about the millionth time he’d heard that one… Sure enough, since I put the numbers on the truck I have never had to hike in with my books again, but get waved on through.
Now, the most aggravating inspection I ever had was the second inspection I had the same day, a few years ago during the Roadcheck event. Early in the day I got flagged for an inspection on the Oklahoma border, and passed with flying colors. I’d been heading back empty to pick up a second load. I got the second load on and headed into Texas, where, just as the sun was going down, a trooper pulled me in for the last inspection of the day. Having just passed one inspection I wasn’t worried, but that darned trooper was intent on finding something to write me for, and nothing was going to deter him until he found it. And find it he did. I got a nice little ticket for being 2′ over length, had to drop my loaded trailer in the DOT yard, find a motel and get an “overlength” permit from the State of Texas via the internet, and wait until 8 am the next morning to go show them my permit and get my trailer back.
All of which would have been far worse had not some very nice drivers (probably in the same boat I was) happened to take pity on a skinny woman trying to crank up a fully loaded gooseneck trailer off the ball and stopped to help me get the thing loose. (There may be some advantages to being both skinny and older, nice guys seem to be willing to at least ask if I need help.)
So my load was late, I was annoyed, and Texas made a whopping $113 bucks off of me that day…
Which all made me a little more gun shy of getting inspected, and when I got pulled over at about 2 am heading north of Waco one night, no trailer, just me and the truck, I was worried about those overzealous troopers. When the trooper came up to the truck he seemed surprised and a little thrown off his game when I turned out to be me… I think he was expecting a man to be out driving that time of night. Well, as it turns out that probably wasn’t what had him out of whack, it was more likely the sticker across the rear of my truck that says… “Apportioned Tag.”
He hemmed and hawed and asked me for my license and registration, then wandered back to his car, but not long enough to run my info unless things are a lot faster than they were when I was the one out there pulling people over, then he came back and basically apologized for stopping me and told me he stopped me for not having a plate on the back of my truck but didn’t see my sticker until he was parked behind me with his lights illuminating the thing.
Poor guy, I have to give him full credit for letting me go without doing anything more, since, technically, he could have done a full-blown inspection if he’d been in the mood to do it. But he did walk up and look to make sure the Apportioned Tag was on the front where it should be. So he covered his bases like a good trooper should.
I guess that’s about all I’ve got on this topic, and I suppose if there has to be a moral to the story, it’s just this… be polite if you get inspected and hope you get a trooper or DOT officer who’s not in the mood to write tickets. If they are, you’ll probably get one…