Enforcing roadway safety with a handshake and a smile

Enforcing roadway safety with a handshake and a smile

November 17, 2016

By Tom Herrmann / ADOT Communications

The Hollywood image of an inspection at an international border isn't exactly welcoming: gruff inspectors look for something, anything, out of the ordinary while drivers look straight ahead, silent and a bit on edge.

That’s not how it works at the Douglas Border Port of Entry.

Sgt. J.J. Moreno of ADOT’s Enforcement and Compliance Division says border inspections are just as effective when he offers a smile, a handshake and a few kind words.


“Inspections don’t have to be confrontational,” he said. “Most of the drivers appreciate that we’re here looking out for their safety as much as for the safety of the traveling public. It’s better for everyone if we can smile while we’re doing our jobs.”

ECD inspectors at the border check for paperwork and obvious safety concerns, while federal agencies complete their own inspections. About a mile away at the Border Port of Entry, Moreno and a small team of inspectors weigh trucks and check for safety issues while chatting with the drivers, many of whom come through several times a day and understand the inspection process as well as the inspectors.

That doesn’t mean inspectors take their jobs lightly. Moreno, a Nogales native who patrolled near Bisbee for 20 years as an officer with the Arizona Department of Public Safety, isn't shy about stopping trucks until they make repairs. On a recent afternoon, a truck was held on the inspection site until mechanics could come to repair its brakes.


Moreno’s positive approach seems to be working. Recently, a trucking company owner from Aqua Prieta, Mexico, brought his entire fleet to be inspected at one time so that future inspections could be completed more quickly.

On Nov. 9, a room full of commercial trucking leaders from Mexico listened while leaders from ECD and other agencies explained the inspection process and answered questions.

“We work with the drivers and the trucking companies not just to make the inspections go faster,” Moreno said. “This is about safety, not only here in Douglas but on roads all across the country. We will not hesitate to pull a truck out of service if the load is not secure or the tires are bad. If the companies can make their trucks safe before they get here, that’s even better. Safety is what matters. Saving time is an added benefit.”

With that he turns, reaches up to shake a driver’s hand as he exits the port of entry. Then he turns to greet the next driver.

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