Please blow into the mouth piece

Everywhere in Denmark, DSV drivers – Danish and non-Danish alike – can risk encountering the inspector from TungVognsSpecialisten hired by DSV to ensure that staff and material do not create any unnecessary danger in the traffic.

Sergei from Belarus is about to climb out of the cabin of his white MAN lorry when Henrik Brunstedt of TungVognsSpecialisten* approaches him, carrying a black writing pad with the checklist under his arm.

*Consulting company specializing in heavy vehicle regulation and traffic safety

The well-trimmed greying hair, black clothes, leather shoes and neon-green safety vest radiate authority, strongly supported by the calm aura and confidence that 23 years with the police leaves with a person. And Sergei is more than willing to cooperate, though he has a hard time understanding Henrik who attempts to communicate in half a dozen languages – though not Russian which the former police officer does not command.

Fewer errors with time

Everyone driving for DSV Denmark – Danish and non-Danish drivers alike – are targeted by the inspections which aim to ensure that both drivers and vehicles are safe.  At the end of the day, Henrik delivers his exhaustive report in Excel by e-mail so that any serious errors can be dealt with, though the remarks have gradually become few and far between.

Headlight faults usually score high on the list of recorded errors, but mirror settings can also cause problems. According to the inspector, this is particularly the case among east European drivers who do not have a tradition of using the mandatory mirrors.

We see fewer errors today than when we started our inspections,

says Henrik who makes inspections for DSV four times a month – all over Denmark. He usually manages 10–12 inspections a day and also experiences many drivers contacting him to learn about a specific rule or make sure that they comply with the guidelines.

Zero tolerance

The inspection ranges from a visual examination of driver and vehicle to presenting a driving licence, haulier permit, training certificate and certificates of approval, if relevant. Lights, mirrors and field of view are checked, the correct fastening of goods is controlled and the driver is tested for alcohol.

I’ve only experienced drivers with positive alcohol readings on a few occasions but never among DSV drivers and never above the maximum legal limit.

"But if I see any breathalyser movement, I report it to DSV who will then take the necessary steps. You’re not allowed to have any alcohol in your blood at all when driving for DSV,” Henrik Brunstedt says.

Drivers and vehicles are also inspected in Sweden, and the checklist grows longer every year. While Denmark has asked an external company to handle the control, Sweden operates a self-check scheme that started 10 years ago, checking hazardous goods transports with focus on equipment, training and driving licence.  

“We have become more thorough over the years in keeping with regulatory requirements and higher demands from both us and our customers. We believe that the random checks enhance traffic safety,” says Stefan Henriksson, Quality Assurance Manager, DSV Road AB.

High standards

Sergei finally understands the numerous gestures and terms for “driving licence” and Henrik can tick off one more item on his list. But there are a few remarks as well: The vehicle does not have the two mandatory light bulbs in the rear lights, so the haulier can expect to hear from DSV.

“DSV takes its business very seriously. The standard is very high for both drivers and vehicles and it pervades the entire organisation,” says the former police officer who only rarely experiences dissatisfaction with the inspections: “Once there was a guy who simply walked out. He would have nothing of it, so he went straight to the office and resigned. But the vast majority are very positive and interested in enhancing safety,” says Henrik Brunstedt.

Lacking language skills is no excuse for not presenting the required documents. Henrik perseveres until the message is understood and the papers shown. Like everyone else, Sergei from Belarus gets to blow into the breathalyser and the reading is a clean 0.00 – as is the tolerance for drinking and driving at DSV.