In my previous IdeaXchange post I mentioned how drivers can interact with officers and inspectors to make inspections go as smoothly as possible.
There are also actions carriers can take to make sure they too have good relationships with law enforcement officers and inspectors. Many of you have already established those relationships and receive the benefits of a good relationship. Of course, having a good relationship doesn’t mean inspectors look the other way or cut you some “slack” when inspecting your vehicles — rather, it provides you an avenue for the free and honest exchange of ideas, questions, training and other valuable information. This exchange can make you a safer carrier, and the law enforcement personnel better informed as to the unique challenges facing the carriers
How do you create this relationship? First impressions count! Your initial approach in discussing your issues with the officer or the agency may determine what kind of response you are going to receive. If you are excessively impolite or condescending, there is obviously a greater possibility the level of cooperation on the agency’s part could be adversely affected.
A more productive method is to make a professional approach, and politely explain your concern. Your phrasing and tone does matter. If you make a comment like, “You guys are always inspecting my trucks and you are harassing me,” you might get some frustration off your chest, but the opportunity to build value with the call was just diminished.
Also, bring in another person if you feel it might help you clearly state your position. For instance, if you feel you are getting a high number of inspections on your vehicles, you may want to have your safety manager approach the agency and indicate your company feels it is having trucks inspected too frequently. You and/or your safety manager can inform them you’d like to find out if there is something your company is doing (or, not doing) that is creating the issue.
In other words, don’t immediately put the agency on the defensive – take a proactive and inquisitive approach. Come forward in a respective manner, and let them know you are earnestly seeking their assistance in making things better. Ask the agency or officer to share some safety tips, and find out if they provide training programs for drivers, safety managers and other officials. If they don’t provide training, let them know you will pass the tips they gave you on to your drivers.
Most enforcement personnel are more than willing to share with the carrier, safety manager and the driver as to how problems can be eliminated so safe and legal CMV operations will result. As I have said before, the ultimate goal of all of us is safety.
While it may seem a bit peculiar given the circumstances, it may lay the foundation for a productive relationship by asking the agency to have someone speak at a driver or technician training session. Most enforcement officials are willing and eager to share their knowledge, but most of all help you improve truck safety on the road.