When it’s time to hit the road, the last thing you want to do is perform a pre-trip inspection. However, pre-trip inspections can save you from unwanted downtime by preventing accidents, repair costs, or missed deadlines. Understanding the benefits of performing pre-trip inspections will ensure the company, your drivers, and motorists are safe on the road.
Why Are Pre Inspections Required?
Even though pre-trip inspections take up valuable time, they are required by law.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) requires truck drivers to perform pre-trip inspections before each haul. Each driver must fill out a driver vehicle inspection report (DVIR) to ensure that the truck’s parts are in working condition, and if not, the vehicle needs to be repaired before use.
There are many reasons why pre-trip inspections are required by law, but two are most important:
Safety: Pre-trip inspections keep truckers and motorists safe on the road. Because trucks are heavy-duty vehicles, they can cause fatal, lasting damage if an accident occurs during a haul. For instance, faulty brakes could lead to a fatal accident. Truck driving takes 7th place on the list of the most dangerous jobs in America, and the U.S. The Department of Labor stated that the number of truck driver fatalities increased by 6.6% from 2016 to 2018. One of the primary causes of these fatal accidents is the failure to perform daily vehicle inspections. Inspecting each and every truck before use keeps everyone protected.
Protection: Unfortunately, even if inspections are completed properly, an accident may still occur on the road. If a motorist or driver is hurt, the company is required to prove in court that they consistently took the necessary precautions to ensure everyone’s safety. DVIR’s are essential to protecting the company because they serve as proof that the vehicle passed inspection and that the company is compliant with the law.
What Are the Consequences of Not Performing Pre-Trip Inspections?
The FMCSA has a point system in place that ensures drivers are following the list of regulations. The Compliance, Safety, and Accountability (CSA) points program rates drivers and fleet managers to see if they are following the FMCSA safety standards.
When a driver is not following one of the regulations, they will receive a CSA violation. Every CSA violation equals a certain number of points depending on the regulation. If a fleet company accrues too many points, it is flagged and becomes a priority for the FMCSA to intervene and assess.
If an accident occurs while a trucker was on the road, lawyers will want to look at the pre-trip inspection report. If a report was not filed, the fleet company can be deemed as negligent in court. Or, if the report states that the inspection took 10 minutes or less, then the lawyers may see it as a red flag and may want details as to how the driver was able to fully inspect the truck in less than 10 minutes.
Fleet managers who do not require inspection reports to be completed are not complying with the law, which can lead to costly trouble. Failure to perform daily pre-trip inspections can result in a loss of certifications, licenses, money, and in severe cases, jobs and even businesses. While a pre-trip inspection can take up to thirty minutes of time, failing to comply with the law can lead to timeless consequences.
Commonly Overlooked Checks During Pre-Trip Inspections
Sometimes certain checks slip through the cracks when it comes time for inspection. These following checks should be added to a daily inspection checklist to ensure a truck is ready to hit the road.
Brakes: Checking the brakes is an absolute must when it comes time to perform a pre-trip inspection. A vehicle’s brakes quickly wear and tear over time and are often ranked as one of the top roadside violations. When checking the brakes, make sure to check the adjustment with the slack adjuster, perform an in-cab check, and ensure the air lines are secure and can flex.
Emergency Kit: Truck drivers must have an emergency kit containing a fire extinguisher, spare fuses/circuit breakers, and warning triangles. You’ll need to test the fuses to make sure they still work properly and replace the extinguisher when needed as it will lose pressure over time.
Seatbelts: Check your seatbelts for wear and tear, frayed edges, or any signs of breakage. If the seatbelt was to snap during a haul, it could lead to both a violation as well as serious danger on the road.
Go Digital with A Driver Vehicle Inspection Reports App
To help truckers perform inspections with ease, companies have released apps to help drivers complete DOT driver vehicle inspection reports. An app is a beneficial solution for any fleet company because the reports will be digitized, and there won’t be any worries about lost reports in case of accidents. Fleet managers can check for reports through the app without having to sort through reams of paperwork.
An example of one of the DVIR digital apps on the market includes DriverRoo. This app walks the driver through a visual representation of the vehicle and makes logging reports effortless.
Fleetio also provides a driver inspection reports app to ensure your trucks are safe to hit the road. Fleet managers can create customized DVIR forms or start from premade templates. It is also a managing tool to schedule vehicles for inspection, set frequencies, and remind drivers when inspections are due.
At TCI, we are dedicated to educating and serving the trucking and transportation industries. If you enjoyed this article and want to stay up-to-date with the trucking industry, please sign up for our email list.