January 13, 2023

It’s time to clean out the permit book


‘There’s no bonus points for having old permits in your permit book, so only keep what you need’

Out with the old and in with the new. It’s time to update — and clean out — your permit book.

Jan. 1 is when the majority of permits expire, so be sure to get yours updated immediately. But sack those old permits while you’re at it.

Reliance Partners Vice President of Safety Brian Runnels urges drivers to start the year with a clean slate, starting with the permit book.

“I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen permit books inside of trucks that are just a total disaster,” Runnels said. “Many drivers don’t bother to clean out the old stuff. They just keep shoving stuff in their permit book.”

The permit book is intended to hold the driver’s most important documents. Everything from the truck’s registration and annual inspection report to the motor carrier’s operating authority, International Fuel Tax Agreement (IFTA) certificate and any insurance records should be safely stored within its covers.

According to Runnels, a disorganized permit book is a red flag to roadside inspectors. “If the permit book is a mess, that’s a good reason for an inspector to take a hard look at everything else,” he said.

However, he maintains it doesn’t take much effort to put your permit book together the right way. For starters, remove all expired permits.

“There’s no bonus points for having old permits in your permit book,” Runnels said. “So only keep what you need.”

Next, ask your safety department about what exactly your permit book should include. Permits often differ from state to state regarding specific commodities, and each industry is known to have its own unique documentation. Companies that haul hazmat for example, must have a hazmat authority certificate.

With each updated permit you receive, be sure to place each document in its correct location. Some books come with tabs, which Runnels said can be very helpful if used appropriately.

Runnels recommends folding full sheets of paper permits in a way that fits nicely in the book and easily displays information about what it is and when it expires. This helps inspectors find specific permits without frustration.

And don’t forget to apply your updated stickers to the side of the truck and trailer. The IFTA certificate, for instance, comes with two stickers attached to the permit.

“I’ve seen stickers still stapled to the permit in the permit book. The stickers have got to be on the side of the truck by Jan. 1,” Runnels said. “If you roll through a scale house and your IFTA stickers aren’t current, that’s a good reason to get pulled in for an inspection.”

Runnels recommends crossing your t’s and dotting your i’s whenever you can. He strongly suggests checking the permit book each time you enter a new truck as well as making sure the documentation is correct with each trailer you haul, such as checking that its license plate matches what’s listed on the registration.

“Quite honestly, that’s something you need to do every time you pick up a trailer,” he said.

Last but not least, it’s important to keep your permit book in a place that’s accessible. Runnels said he always kept his in the driver door pouch. The last thing you would want is for an inspector to grow impatient as you fumble around the cab for something that should be right by your side.