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Pre-Trip Inspections – Setting You Up for Success on the Road


As you know, breakfast is the most important meal of the day. It gives you the fuel and energy that you need to start your day off right. Well, the same goes for the pre-trip inspection of your vehicle. Pre-trip inspections set you up for success on the road.

What’s Required for a Pre-Trip Inspection?
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) requires that drivers be satisfied that their vehicle is in safe operating condition before hitting the road. The best way to do this is to do a pre-trip inspection. Drivers also need to review the last driver vehicle inspection report (DVIR) that was submitted (under 49 CFR 396.13). If there were defects or deficiencies noted in the DVIR, the driver must sign to acknowledge that the repairs have been performed.

How Long Should It Take to Do a Pre-Trip Inspection?
There are no real guidelines for how long it should take to do. As a benchmark, a thorough pre-trip inspection should take you between 20-40 minutes if no issues are found. Take your time while working your way around each section of your vehicle to make sure you’ve caught everything.

If you attended a CDL training program at a reputable driving school, you should be familiar with the requirements of a pre-trip inspection. In fact, you’re probably able to perform one that exceeds minimum requirements! No matter how diligent we are, we can all miss things from time to time. Here are some commonly missed elements of a pre-trip inspection that you should double check before you get rolling:

8 Commonly Missed Pre-Trip Inspection Elements

  1. WheelChock.jpgChock Your Wheels
    It’s a common sense thing that people forget when rushing. Chocks are a simple safety measure that help prevent accidental movement of the vehicle during the inspection.

  2. Cleanliness
    TruckCab.jpgWhen you get pulled in for a roadside inspection, one of the first places an inspector will look is in your cab. A clean cab gives the impression that you’re a professional driver. If you can’t keep your cab clean, the inspector might think you’re cutting corners in other areas of your job such as logging.

  3. Brakes
    Brakes are one of the hardest working components on your vehicle and subject to a lot of wear and tear. Testing them properly involves many steps inside and outside of your cab. It’s no wonder that brake related violations are some of the most frequent!

  4. Extinguisher.gifEmergency Kit
    You are required to carry an emergency kit containing spare fuses, warning hazard triangles, and a fire extinguisher. Double check your kit to make sure you have everything and that the items are in good working condition. Remember that your fire extinguisher needs to be regularly serviced.

  5. Reflectors
    You can receive a violation for having defective reflectors or defective reflective strips on your vehicle. Make sure that reflectors are free of cracks and clean off any dirt. 

  6. Seat Belts
    Seat_Belt.jpgCheck your seat belts for damage and look out for any frayed edges. Your belt is not going to be effective if it snaps. Your seatbelt should retract and return smoothly from the mechanism. If the action isn’t smooth, this could be an indication that the seat belt needs replacing.

  7. Lug Nuts
    Wheel fasteners need to be checked to ensure they are not loose and that they are tightened correctly. Rust around lug nuts can also be indicative of a widening of the bolt hole. Check rims that have been painted; sometimes the paint is an attempt to hide rusted areas.

  8. Paperwork
    app_with_hand_2.jpgHave the correct paperwork/documentation on you at all times and make sure it’s up-to-date! Always keep your paperwork in a spot that easily accessible so that you’re not fumbling around during an inspection. Keeping this information in a binder can help a lot!

    Electronic logs can really help you reduce that amount
    of paperwork you have to worry about! Download the BigRoad Mobile App and get your fleet started on a
    free 30-day trial of the BigRoad Web App to see how we can help you improve your operations.

A little time spent upfront on your pre-trip inspection can save you a lot of time and money in the long run! Make pre-trip inspections part of your daily routine to set yourself up for success on the road.