Safety Starts With Proper Vehicle Maintenance

Ensuring the safety of a driver and the safety of the general public starts with a thorough pre-trip and post-trip vehicle inspection. The driver is ultimately responsible for ensuring that the vehicle being driven is in safe operating condition, with the assistance of appropriate inspection procedures and reports. The driver is also in a position to detect vehicle deficiencies and refer them to maintenance for repairs. Listed below are areas to cover in a pre-trip and post-trip inspection.

Pre-Trip Inspections

Before driving a motor vehicle, drivers must be satisfied that the vehicle is in safe operating condition by reviewing the last inspection report and signing the report, only if defects or deficiencies were noted, to acknowledge that he/she has reviewed the report and ensure that the required repairs have been made.

The following parts and accessories should also be inspected to ensure “good working order” prior to driving

Service brakes, including trailer brake connections

Parking (hand) brake

Steering mechanism

Tires

Horn

Windshield wipers

Rear vision mirrors

Coupling devices

Also ensure that the following emergency equipment is in place and ready for use:

Fire extinguishers

Spare fuses

Warning devices

Some vehicle deficiencies cannot be detected by daily inspection procedures and need to be addressed by periodic inspections and preventative maintenance procedures by maintenance personnel. Requirements for company-owned equipment also apply to leased owner/operators and other leased equipment, if controlled for 30 days or more. The DOT requires that motor carriers “shall systematically inspect, repair and maintain, or cause to be systematically inspected, repaired and maintained, all motor vehicles subject to its control”. This ultimately makes the motor carrier responsible for ensuring that owner/operator equipment is well maintained.

Post-Trip Inspections

At the completion of each day’s work, drivers must prepare a written report, Driver Vehicle Inspection Report, for each piece of equipment operated. The report must contain the following information, at a minimum:

Service brakes, including trailer brake connections

Parking (hand) brake

Steering mechanism

Lighting devices and reflectors

Tires

Horn

Windshield wipers

Rear vision mirrors

Coupling devices

Wheels and rims

Emergency equipment

The driver must list any defect that would affect the safety of operation or would result in a mechanical breakdown. If no defects are discovered, the driver must so indicate on the report. In all instances, the driver must sign the report, except that in team operations, only one driver needs to sign the report, provided both drivers agree as to the defects or deficiencies.

Any defects likely to affect the safety of operation must be repaired and the motor carrier or agent must certify on the report that the defects have been corrected, or that correction is unnecessary before the vehicle is dispatched again. This report must be retained for three months from the date the report was prepared.

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