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Staying Ahead Of The Curve: Driver Vehicle Inspection Compliance

Driver vehicle inspection personal safety, and that of the motoring public that you share the highway with, is clearly the most important reason to inspect your commercial motor vehicle.

A vehicle defect found during a pre-trip inspection at a motor carrier’s terminal could save you and your fleet down the road.  This includes a breakdown at roadside that will cost time and dollars, or even worse – a crash.

Federal and state and provincial regulations require an inspection be completed by a professional driver. 

If you fail to do a proper inspection, a DOT inspector can and will cite you and your motor carrier. You can even have your vehicle placed out-of-service if it is found that you are operating with a major defect according to the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) out of service criteria.

So why risk your life, or the life of others as well as your pocketbook by operating an unsafe vehicle?

Professional drivers should always protect themselves and others by performing a thorough and systematic vehicle inspection everyday you operate a commercial motor vehicle!

Essentially, a Driver, their Fleet Manager and a Mechanic all play an important role to close the maintenance loop from start to finish.

How the process should flow from a regulatory perspective is that a Driver must complete an inspection of a vehicle(s) and note any defects, either minor or major, on their driver vehicle inspection report (DVIR). 

Vehicle inspection 2.

8 Commonly Overlooked Checks During a Pre-Trip Inspection

The Driver must then advise the Fleet Manager and/or the Mechanic of the presence of a minor or major defect to be repaired and documented on the Driver’s DVIR. There are mobile applications like Fleet Complete’s Inspect app to streamline the process and send the report directly to the Mechanic with an e-signature.

The Fleet Manager will either assign a Mechanic to correct a defect immediately, or the Mechanic can just go ahead and correct a defect immediately if it is a major defect, since a vehicle is essentially out-of-service at this point and cannot be operated. 

In the case of a minor defect, the Mechanic can proceed with the repair of the minor defect at the next available opportunity when the vehicle has returned from a trip and parts and resources are available to repair.  

In this case, the Driver must continue to mark the minor defect on the DVIR until the repairs are made, and that the presence of the defect does not render the vehicle unsafe from operation. 

The tricky part is whether the Driver, the Fleet Manager and/or Mechanic know if the defect is a minor or a major defect according to the CVSA out-of-service (OOS) criteria or not. 


Based on my experience in the industry, many Drivers, Fleet Managers and/or Mechanics are unaware of the specific CVSA OOS criteria for determining whether a defect is major or minor.  Unfortunately, a Driver will subsequently continue to drive with what is really a major defect. If ever the vehicle is inspected by DOT, it will be placed out-of-service criteria and both the Driver and the Fleet can and will be cited for this violation.

In other cases, a Driver will again continue to operate a vehicle with a minor defect, and again inspected by DOT.  In this case, the vehicle will NOT be placed out-of-service, but both the Driver and the Fleet can and will be cited for this violation due to the presence of a defect.  This is all based of DOT discretion to lay a citation or not.

Once the Driver identifies the defects and makes a notation in the DVIR and advises the Fleet Manager and/or the Mechanic, the onus for the safe operation of the vehicle shifts from the Driver to the Fleet to correct

The Fleet Manager and/or the Mechanic must acknowledge the presences of a minor or major defect to be repaired or be not necessary for the safe operation of the vehicle. 

Once the Mechanic repairs the defects, he/she must sign off in the Driver’s DVIR, confirming that the defect is no longer present, and the vehicle can resume operation.

If the Fleet is audited by DOT at a future date, this maintenance loop is closed, and the driver and Fleet should not be cited in the future due in the above scenario. 

Once the vehicle is returned to the Driver, he/she once again assumes responsibility for the safe operation of the vehicle, including complete daily inspections and documentation DVIRs going forward.

Vehicle inspection 3.

Essentially no commercial motor vehicle may be operated unless the professional driver is satisfied that safety components and accessories comply with the CVSA out-of-service criteria including, but not limited to:

  1. Air brakes systems, including trailer brake connections (if applicable)
  2. Electric Brake System (if applicable)
  3. Hydraulic Brake System (if applicable)
  4. Cab
  5. Cargo Securement
  6. Coupling Devices (if applicable)
  7. Dangerous goods (Canada) and hazardous materials (U.S)
  8. Driver Controls
  9. Driver Seat
  10. All Emergency Equipment & Safety Devices
  11. Exhaust
  12. Frame and Cargo Body
  13. Fuel
  14. General equipment
  15. Glass and Mirrors
  16. Heater/Defroster
  17. Horn
  18. Lamps and Reflectors
  19. Steering component
  20. Suspension System
  21. Tires
  22. Wheels, Hubs and Fasteners
  23. Windshield wipers and reservoir fluid


At the completion of each day’s work, a professional driver in the U.S. is required to prepare a written report, identifying the vehicle and listing any defect or deficiency discovered or reported to the driver that would affect the safety of the vehicle, or result in a mechanical breakdown.

All DVIRs must be retained by the motor carrier for prescribed timelines according to regulations in the jurisdiction that your fleet of vehicles are being operated from.

If you want to ensure full compliance with Driver Vehicle Inspection requirements, deploy the Inspect solution going forward.