What is a DOT Pre-Trip Inspection Checklist?

What is a DOT Pre-trip Inspection Checklist?

The DOT pre-trip inspection is a fundamental safety procedure best practiced by all CMV (commercial motor vehicle) operators to ensure safe over-the-road operation. For CMV’s weighing in at more than 10,000 pounds, and all semi-trailer/tractor combinations, the pre-trip inspection is required to remain compliant with FMCSA/DOT regulations.

A thorough DOT pre-trip inspection checklist is required to eliminate all possible mechanical or safety issues before departure to ensure smooth over-the-road operations. The average time spent on the pre-trip inspection is around 30 minutes, and for carriers of any size it is time well spent. Identifying damage or maintenance issues early on should be the first step before every road trip for every trucker in the CDL A class.

DOT Pre-Trip Inspection Points

A typical DOT pre-trip inspection checklist may include up to 45 items for the tractor (power unit) and 15 inspection points for the trailer or trailers. A thorough pre-trip inspection checklist will include, at a minimum, all of the points covered in a Level 1 North American Standard Inspection. Experienced fleet managers frequently go beyond the minimum inspection measures required for DOT compliance to streamline maintenance and optimize fleet availability performance. A good pre-trip checklist is customized to meet the needs of the individual fleet while ensuring that all operators are always prepared for The 6 Levels of DOT Inspection Fleet Managers Must Know. 

Common Fleet Pain Points With Paper Inspection Checklists

Successful fleets most likely already have their own existing pre-trip checklists in paper form which have evolved over time to meet the maintenance and operational demands they face each day. The problem is that valuable data acquired with old fashioned paper inspection forms can't be forwarded to the fleet's decision-makers in real time.

Paper forms bring with them the inherent delays that all paper administration carries with it. Even when a diligent driver flags faults discovered in a thorough pre-trip inspection, corrective maintenance procedures and critical departures are delayed while work orders make their way through the paper trail. With a paper-based inspection system, the driver is limited to a few written comments which can create guesswork for fleet managers and mechanics who need to prioritize fleet repairs. Managers can quickly be buried in reams of paper which all has to be organized, filed, and stored somewhere. 

Valuable performance data collected from the paper inspection report isn't easily analyzed until all the paper reports from all of the fleet's drivers are delivered, collated, and sorted. Then they need to be reviewed by a team of human experts, skilled and experienced at spotting operating and maintenance issues. This makes it difficult to spot frequent failures common to various CMV makes and models used fleet-wide. With paper reporting, Big Data becomes a big burden and costly downtime escalates. Maintenance personnel can end up working in continuous "catch-up" mode, working overtime to correct problems which may have easily been avoided with early discovery, efficient fleet-wide communication, and simple preventative maintenance.

At Whip Around we've made it easy to streamline the pre-trip inspection process to optimize fleet performance with the convenience of the smartphone.

Optimized Digital DOT Pre-trip Inspections With Whip Around 

The keys to optimizing the data gathered in rigorous pre-trip inspections is to make that data as accurate as possible with fleet-wide access to inspection results in real time. The Whip Around app already provides the basic DVIR requirements to ensure DOT compliance in the regions where your fleet operates, but Whip Around also provides custom form creation capabilities that allow fleet managers to determine their own level of inspection detail.

When drivers flag a fault with the Whip Around DVIR or customized pre-trip inspection list the reports are immediately available via the driver's smartphone to the manager's dashboard. There is no guesswork involved for maintenance personnel who will need to schedule and perform repairs since the driver can attach images and forward them with pertinent comments about the problems he's discovered.

Create New Digital Inspection Forms With Whip Around


Managers have the ability to create new forms to suit various makes and models throughout the fleet. Whip Around provides the options to create new forms from templates, duplicate forms, and the ability to edit forms. Existing checklists can be converted to digital quickly and drivers can use them for inspections on demand anytime anywhere. When the driver completes the inspection the result is a professional report sent back to the manager's dashboard with time and date stamp, location, and the driver's login ID. Internal and external mechanics can be brought into the loop immediately to minimize downtime and keep the fleet rolling.

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Best of all if a common fleet-wide problem is occurring, managers can get the word out quickly. Say for example that certain CMV's from leasing agent "A" are showing a frequently recurring problem with a misfit radiator cap. An alert can be issued by the carrier fleet-wide to ensure that all operators pay special attention to this particular issue before departure. This is just a very simple example of how real-time management capability can nip a simple maintenance problem in the bud before it can evolve into costly over-the-road failures and fleet-wide downtime.

The custom inspection form is one of the most versatile digital advantages which can benefit fleets of all types from freight carriers to utility enterprises, to construction companies. Whip Around's digital forms and Big Data analytics can enhance maintenance for the fleet as well as specialized heavy rolling equipment, high-value assets, and machinery. Maintenance reminders and digital logins and timestamps ensure that vital procedures and inspections get done by the personnel who are responsible for completing them. Smartphone convenience eliminates burdensome paperwork and bulk storage. Cloud-based leaderboards take the best advantage of all the fleet's digital inspection data by applying Big Data analytics for spotting performance trends, staying ahead of common maintenance issues, and keeping drivers, mechanics, and team leaders all on the same page for real-time decision making. 

Learn More About a DOT Pre-Trip Inspection Checklist

At Whip Around we've streamlined DVIR compliance and structured our versatile application to make the digital transformation for your fleet as seamless as possible. We've made it our mission to provide intuitive user-friendly fleet maintenance software that drivers and managers love. When you're ready to take advantage of the real-time fleet management benefits that Whip Around has provided for hundreds of businesses please don't hesitate to contact us