January 2, 2009

Losing a Medical Card

Before I begin my story, let me share that as we are sitting here in Yuma waiting to load there is a bright yellow and blue hot air balloon floating through the air above the cooler. One year when we were driving through Yuma, there was a sky full of hot air balloons. It was so pretty. Maybe they'll do that again today. I'll have to keep my eye on the sky.
Ok, as we were heading south on Wednesay morning, we were approaching Las Vegas. Just north of there, the NV DOT has an inspection station which I have never seen open, but that morning it was. They were randomly pulling trucks in to inspect. Lucky us, there were no other trucks passing by at the moment, so we got pulled in.
Now, a little lesson in DOT inspections and weigh stations:
When a truck rolls across a scale or into an inspection, the first thing they do is punch your DOT number, which is displayed on the side of the truck, into their computer. This pulls up all the company information like location, number of trucks and drivers, your safety rating, etc. The safety rating is based on the number of "incidents" your company has had in a certain amount of time,the results of previous inspections (level 1, 2, or 3 explained later) as well as other factors like your saftey inspection, which we did last January where they look at all your paperwork, your logs, how organized you are, etc.
After they pull your number and info, they ask for your license, medical card, log book, vehicle and trailer registration, bills of lading, and any other piece of relevant paperwork. If they just check your paperwork its considered a level 3 inspection. Level two is when they do a walk around and inspect the truck as well as your paperwork. Level one is the most indepth. They literally crawl under the truck and trailer and inspect the brakes, tires, air lines, EVERYTHING, in addition to your paperwork. I've had a level one done in California once, but mostly they just do level 3 inspections.
Back to the present. This was a level two inspection because they were checking for bombs, so as Malcolm got our paperwork together, the DOT officer walked around the truck and checked it, and then came back for the paperwork. Its at this point where things went down hill. Malcolm couldn't find his medical card. He did have his old one, which was really odd, and let us to wonder if perhaps he hadn't mistakenly thrown out his new one instead. We hadn't been inspected since May and he'd gotten his new card in June, so there was no way to look in our records and see if he'd shown it to anyone since getting it.
And here's where the saftey rating came in to save the day. The DOT officer took Malcolm to the his car to go through the paperwork, and discuss the medical card. He had been super nice up to this point and fortunatly his happy demeanor stayed in place. He told Malcolm he wanted to show him something on the computer. He said the lowest safty rating he'd ever seen was an 11. He'd seen lots of elevens. He said "You have a safety rating of 10." (by the way, the low scores are good scores. High scores indicate a lot of "issues.") Then he said "Oh look...I forgot to check the medical card and I've already gone on to the next page." He told Malcolm that with a safety score like that he wasn't worried about it and for us to take care of the medical card and have a safe trip.
Update: Malcolm just talked to Dale and instead of our going to Calgary, we are going to load this trailer, then switch with a guy down here, load his trailer, then go to Billings. It means two days (really three if you count yesterday) in Yuma, and then we'll be off a couple of days in Billings, but it also means no problems at the border and a garuntee that I'll still be a US citizen. Sounds fine to me. And in the mean time maybe we can get in touch with the clinic in California where we got Malcolm's DOT physical done and get a new card, or I can find his "long form" which is just a sheet of paper from his physical at home. In addition I had left Ella's vaccination and rabies paperwork at home. She's still under 5 months so I don't think the border inspectors would have given us a problem, but now I can get them in the truck and have them in case we get sent up there again. I was, in a very small way, looking forward to seeing Alberta. I've heard it's pretty. But I'd rather do it under less stressful, more legal, circumstances! So...no trip to Canada this round. But a couple days at home and a couple days to chill in Yuma. I'll get lots of reading and maybe some movie watching done.

1 comment:

Meagan said...

Isn't it so wonderful when you run into nice people!!! I'm so glad the guy was so friendly and helpful and very proud that your safety rating is so good!!!