Protecting Your CDL
As a driver, it can seem like the world is against you and the odds really aren’t in your favor, especially when it comes to regulations and policies. Passing billboards on the interstates with law firms advertising defense for four wheelers is just as commonplace as roadkill. Apart from traffic stops and accidents, there are companies that could ask drivers to compromise their license for a load or face possible termination. So, what is a driver to do to protect their livelihood that is their license? We may not have a fix-all answer for you, but we can provide some tips and tricks on protecting yourself and your license.
First and foremost, make sure you are vigilant in your safety practices before any trip. Pre-tripping can save you a world of hurt whether it’s a tire with low pressure, loose strap or a mud flap hanging on by a thread. Paying close attention to detail through out your career will always be necessary in covering your behind. Nonetheless, even the keenest pre-trips may not prevent a DPS trooper appearing in your side mirrors.
Just as important as pre-tripping is staying aware at every moment you’re behind the wheel. That may sound like common sense but it’s extremely easy to slip into complacency behind the wheel, especially when on a familiar route or having been on the road for decades. Defensive driving should be just as habit to you as breathing, but alas, everyone seems to fall short at some point.
Keeping your papers and official documents organized and up to date is something that also shouldn’t be an afterthought. Making sure your permits, BOLs and any other paperwork you carry is accurate and up to date can save you headaches on the road and at the shippers.
Now that you’ve done everything possible in your power, what can you do to protect yourself if you ever find yourself in an unfortunate situation?
Depends on the situation
Protecting your CDL is paramount as this is your livelihood. You’ve taken the required tests, continue to keep it updated and participate in DOT physicals you’ve invested into this career. It may be worth considering coming up with a plan to protect this investment.
Fight tickets – Certain tickets may have a better chance of being reduced or dismissed in court. Get to know a few lawyers that specialize in representing CDL drivers and form a relationship with a firm you can call on should the worst happen. Some firms can even represent you if you were to get into an accident. Some companies though require their drivers to use a specific lawyer or have a process specific to them that company drivers must adhere to.
When a company asks too much – It’s unfortunate when it happens but there are companies out there that find it acceptable to put their drivers in tight spots when it comes to risking their record and/or license. Whether it is a load you’re not endorsed to carry, over-weight, over-sized, or outside your hours of service, it is never worth your license and damaging your record. If a company consistently pressures you to go against regulations, whatever the matter is, it may be time to start looking for a new company. It can be uncomfortable to push back when your company is asking you to do things that you wouldn’t be okay with, but most seasoned drivers can say it becomes part of the job.
All in all,
There are resources out there and solutions for drivers who feel the need to protect their CDLs whether it be from a company or an operational incident, it is a matter of seeking them out and preparing.
One of the solutions could be a subscription-like service where a driver pays a firm with the agreement that they will guide them and represent them for whatever legal matters they may incur during their career. But be warned, these do have some downsides and they may not be right for everyone.
You, as the driver, can only so much to be proactive and vigilant to protect your trip, your truck and yourself, but sometimes a little more may be needed to keep your record and yourself safe.
Take a turn for the better, call Meadow Lark today and let’s talk. (877) 590-5450
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