A police check is a nuisance for every truck driver. It holds you up and minimises the often already tightly calculated travel time. However, there are several things you can do to make sure the checks are done quickly and politely.
Policemen who check trucks tend to flag down the vehicles where they suspect something is wrong. Accordingly, the haulier should always inspect the truck before each trip and have the lights and brakes checked to make sure they are working properly. It is also always worth quickly inspecting the tyres. These must not be too worn. However, deficiencies in these areas can hardly be seen at a glance (at least during the day in the case of light) – and only become apparent on closer examination in the layby.
It is therefore much more important that you, as a driver, load the truck properly and carefully secure the cargo. If the truck sways suspiciously when changing lanes, if it lists or bulges out on one side, a check is very likely. Also, you should be careful not to exceed the maximum weight of cargo. Actually, the following should be self-evident, but there are too often counterexamples for us to leave out this tip: Always make sure that you know what you are transporting – for hazardous goods, for example, you need an extra permit. Take charge of loading and securing the load yourself so you know it has been done properly.
Always remain courteous
Naturally you do not feel inclned to show much sympathy to the men who are interrupting you at work. But if you allow this to show, you only make the check more difficult for yourself – even the police officers are only people who do not like to be criticised for their job. Therefore, it is best to keep all the papers that the police will want to see ready to hand. These are:
- Driving licence
- Driver card
- Professional driver qualification
- Vehicle/trailer registration certificates
- Operating permit for individual parts (if applicable)
- Licence for the transport of goods
- Delivery note or loading papers
- ADR certificate when transporting hazardous goods
- EC tachograph and disc
Respond willingly to all questions and show the cargo area on request without obstructing. If your truck makes a good visual impression, the check can be over relatively quickly. A smile will help get you back on the road faster than words.
Comply with sleep and rest periods
Naturally, you can only get back on the road quickly if the check of the EC tachograph or chart shows that you were abiding by the statutory sleep and rest periods and have not extended your driving times. Even if you find it difficult – keep to the prescribed breaks – otherwise the check can be expensive and it will cost you far more time than the statutory break.
Avoid obvious infringements
Theoretically, every professional driver knows the importance of the next two points, but in practice there are always infringements. If a police check catches you exceeding the prescribed speed limit, the risk is quite high that you will be asked to pull over at the next layby and that both you and your vehicle will be subjected to a close inspection. So even if it is urgent – do not drive faster than you are allowed!
Another no-go, which happens far too often, is (residual) alcohol at the wheel. It should be clear that you do not drink and drive. However, people often underestimate the long-term effect of alcohol and climb into the truck after their sleep when they are not yet fit to drive again. If this (or the abuse of other substances) is noticed by the police officers during the check and confirmed by a test, your journey will be over and your driving licence gone.
Summary: Stick to the rules and you’ll have nothing to worry about
With a truck that is in good shape all-round and carefully loaded, you usually do not have to worry about any check. But if you do happen to get checked, you should cooperate with the police – they are doing their job just like you. Have you kept to your breaks and are you fit to drive? Are your papers in order? Is the load carefully secured? Are your lights and brakes working properly and your tyres not too worn? Then there is nothing standing in the way of a quick onward journey.