Keep Paperwork on Your Service Truck so You’re Ready for Anything

Whether you’re stopped by the highway patrol or injured on the job, carry these helpful documents and first-aid supplies to keep running safe and legal.

Keep Paperwork on Your Service Truck so You’re Ready for Anything

Jeff and Terri Wigley

January is definitely a month for planning, and we had two interesting questions this month concerning this topic: 

Question: What documents should I keep in the service truck in case I am stopped by a state trooper or the DOT?

Answer: From personal experience, we can say that the preparation and organization of documents is instrumental in creating a favorable impression with law-enforcement officials. Having the necessary documents in order and easily accessible is calming for your driver during those first nervous moments after being pulled over by the officer. The ability to present all of the documents together in an organized fashion indicates your company is making a good faith effort to comply with various rules and regulations.

One suggestion that many owners have employed is using a red notebook to contain all necessary documentation and that is then stored behind the passenger seat, within easy reach of the driver. What should be in this notebook? While there may be some slight variation by state, the basic components are:

Copy of Vehicle Registration: Make sure the registration is valid and that the VIN and tag match each vehicle. This form may also indicate if the vehicle requires drivers with a CDL.

Copy of Proof of Insurance: Make sure that this form is also valid and the insured dates are up to date.

Copy of Federal Annual Inspection: This form demonstrates that the particular vehicle passed all federal safety and compliance standards. A decal is also usually affixed inside the cab with the expiration date listed.

Copies of Safety Data Sheets: SDSs have 16 sections of information and are more precise than the old, more popular Material Safety Data Sheets. In 2012, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration published HazCom 2012 that instituted the use of these forms. Make sure you have an SDS for each chemical component carried on the truck, such as deodorizer, odor eliminating fragrance, cleaning compounds (such as bleach, urinal cleaner, etc.), urinal blocks and any other item that is used. Contact your supplier for these sheets. Discard old MSDS you have.

Copy of Company Waste Disposal Permit (or Similar Approval): Depending on the disposal location rules and regulations, there may be a permit number assigned to your company. Proof of approval of proper disposal can be an effective tool when, and if, the situation arises. It can also be an effective sales tool in assuring customers that your company is compliant and environmentally conscious.

Waste Disposal Manifests: To be completed at the disposal facility before disposing of waste. 

Spill Containment Procedure Report: To be completed in case of an accidental septage spill. The Portable Sanitation Association International has an excellent example in its training materials. The report form should be verified by legal counsel in your areas of operation.

Accident/Incident Report: The design of this form will vary, based on company policies, but the basic information would include driver’s name, date, time, weather conditions, names of parties involved with phone numbers, a narrative of the incident, police report number (if applicable), etc.

Pre-trip Inspection Report: Some companies will include in the notebook, while others prefer that it be with the Route Sheet for that day and be on the front seat. Still others may maintain them electronically. 

List of Important Phone Numbers: Management and other key personnel, fellow driver’s numbers, etc. The detail will vary greatly by company.

Other: Any and all information you deem to be pertinent. When in doubt, include it in the notebook.


Question: What do you suggest for setting up a first-aid kit for each vehicle in preparation for the upcoming busy season?

Answer: After a careful review of the Federal Motor Carriers Safety Administration regulations, there are no specified requirements for the contents of a first-aid kit. While first-aid kits in the office and near the yard should be extensive and complete, including eyewash stations and possibly defibrillators, first-aid kits in trucks need to be as similar as possible but on a smaller scale. A basic first-aid kit should contain:

  • Various sizes of adhesive bandages
  • First-aid tape
  • Gauze
  • Antibiotic ointment
  • Burn-cooling gel
  • Scissors
  • Tweezers
  • Health care gloves
  • Acetaminophen (or similar) extra-strength caplets
  • First-aid guide.

Although not included in a basic kit, a strong suggestion is a personal eyewash kit. These small kits are relatively inexpensive, yet provide immediate access to a saline spray in the case of eye injury or chemical splash.

Most basic kits will fit quite nicely behind the passenger seat next to the organizational notebook. As was discussed with the organizational notebook, if in doubt, add it to the kit! 


Comments on this site are submitted by users and are not endorsed by nor do they reflect the views or opinions of COLE Publishing, Inc. Comments are moderated before being posted.