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Melanie Noland’s Story: DOT Inspection and a Call to Stay Diligent

My name is Melanie Noland, I am heading into my fifth year driving with Marvin Keller. My story today is about getting too comfortable in complacency.

I was responsible for the loading of a hazardous materials load on Friday this past week. Despite knowing all the things that is required of me on a Hazmat load, I allowed myself to get sidetracked and missed a very critical step.

Upon arriving at my shipper, I went inside and I took with me my pickup number as well a strap in order to remind myself to strap my load before I left. I had to use the restroom having been on the road for awhile, so I checked in and headed inside. On my way back out the loader assured me that he was going to go load, and said that I should take care of my paperwork and my placards and while he continued to load me up. So I went outside and placarded my load, punched in my paperwork and got it ready to send. After the load process, the loader brought my seal outside to me. So I pulled again, shut my doors, he sealed it, I slid my wheels and I took off without a second thought.

After getting on the interstate I noticed there was a police officer on the entrance ramp. I didn’t pay too much attention of it because to my knowing I was in good standing. Well the police officer decided it was my turn, so he pulled me over. He informed that me he was going to do a hazmat inspection. Still thinking that was an easy 100 bucks I was ready to go.

Upon inspection I was leading with flying colors. When he informed me he was going to break my seal and look at my cylinders, my mind flashed back to when I set down the strap on the shippers dock, and I knew right away that I had missed a very critical step. I had in fact neglected to strap in a Hazardous Materials load.

I not only cost myself $100 for a good inspection, but I also cost my team to take a hit. That violation will affect our CSA scores, and for that I bear the responsibility of knowing that is my fault.

I am recording this today in hopes to submit a reminder to all of our drivers who get into a daily routine to double check our steps. Something that simple could have been a much larger mistake. If had I not been stopped for inspection, another driver would have unknowingly taken off with that unsafe load. He would have been at risk for taking a hit, or innocent people might have been at risk had an unfortunate event taken place and there was an accident.

Something this important should not be overlooked due to a habitual routine. I’m just putting a word out there to remind ourselves to double check everything, and to be ten times more diligent when hauling Hazmats. It’s that important.

Thank you, Melanie for your transparency and eloquence. As a reminder to all, here is a list of pre-trip inspection (received from Cottingham & Butler):

  1. Tire inflation and tread depth

  2. Fluid levels such as oil, coolant, power steering, etc

  3. Brake system including adjustment, brake shoes, linkage, etc.

  4. Check that lights and reflectors are working and clean

  5. Check that steering system not loose or leaking

  6. Check suspension systems for loose parts, air leaks, etc.

  7. Coupling system checked for cracks in upper/lower plates, worn trailer kingpin, proper latching, no play in locking jaws, etc.

  8. Check that cargo is properly loaded and secured with doors properly latched

  9. Assess yourself that you are mentally and physically able to handle the day’s challenges

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