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March 29, 2018

Is Technology Making DVIR's Better or Worse?

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Driver vehicle inspection reports (DVIR), sometimes called pre-trip inspections, are a staple in every driver and fleet manager’s life. They can also become a perennial source of stress. So is technology making these reports easier? The answer is a resounding yes! Let’s take a look at some of the concerns about how technology is affecting all of our lives, then assess whether these issues extend to DVIRs.

Is Technology Making Our Lives Better?

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A generation or two ago, people would have marveled at the notion of instantaneous communication at the press of a button. Gone are the days of having to go to the library, waiting endless weeks for a response to a letter, and paying massive long distance phone bills. It seems we should all have lots more time, tons more money, and better lives overall.

Yet technology, for most of us, has not delivered on its promise of greater convenience. The rapid turnaround of email, instant messaging, and social media has primed us all to expect immediate responses. We want to hear from people yesterday. The result is a state of perennial stress and constant frazzle. We all feel the need to be constantly plugged in and responsive. We can’t sit back and enjoy a conversation, or even sleep, without checking our phones.

The technologies that promised to make our lives easier have instead made us all chronically, constantly, endlessly busy. The headlines and research are predictable, and alarming:

Of course, much of this can be overcome by controlling the role digital media plays in our lives and carefully monitoring our own use of technology. That’s easier said than done, though, and for many people, trying to control their use of technology just becomes one more impossible and time-consuming task on a seemingly endless to-do list.

The Problem with DVIR Forms

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DVIR forms might be one of the few exceptions to the challenging realities of technology. The old-fashioned approach to DVIR forms just doesn’t work, because it creates an endless pile of paperwork. The law says that every fleet must inspect its vehicles before driving them. You can design your own forms, so long as they maintain basic mechanical information and details about recent inspections.

It’s a reasonable requirement designed to keep your drivers safe, protect motorists, and ensure that companies take dangerous vehicles off the road. The problem is that this requirement can also create a ton of stress for owners, operators, drivers, and anyone else who has to grapple daily with regulatory issues.

Before we explore how switching to digital DVIR forms can make your life better, let’s consider some of the challenges drivers, fleet managers, and owners face in complying with DVIR laws.

The challenge of full compliance

DVIR are not supposed to be cursory overviews. Nor are drivers supposed to check off each box on the form as a matter of course. These forms are critical for driver safety, and for the safety of other vehicles on the road. To fully comply with the law, your drivers must physically inspect each vehicle, and honestly report any defects or mechanical difficulties. You must then address these issues before the vehicle goes back on the road.

As a practical matter, this creates significant burdens for drivers, owners, and managers. That’s doubly true when you must meet tight deadlines. The temptation to ignore vehicle defects can be overwhelming. But of course, that subjects you to potential fines, put your drivers in danger, and can render you liable if there’s an accident and you are sued.

It’s a tough line, and one which many fleet operators don’t talk about. Yet it must be addressed: this paperwork burden is real, overwhelming, and costly.

Supervisory issues

No driver wants to waste their time inspecting a vehicle, especially if there’s a very real risk that this vehicle must then be taken off of the road. That means managers must oversee inspections. This can be an incredibly taxing and time-consuming undertaking.

Not only must managers continually nag drivers to do their forms. They must also find ways to balance this burden against the other burdens of their job. Consider the following:

  • Managers might not want to take time off of work, and owners might be reluctant to give managers vacation time.
  • Managers may need to be physically present to ensure that drivers comply with inspection requirements.
  • Managers are turned into the bad guys, perpetually hounding annoyed drivers who just want to get out on the road.

It’s a task no one wants to undertake, but one which the law demands.

Time constraints

Most fleets operate under significant time constraints. Your drivers need to get from point A to point B, and to maximize your profits, they must do so quickly. DVIRs slow down the process -- especially when there’s a problem. They force drivers to wait to get on the road, delay deliveries, and subject businesses to uncertainty as they await repairs and replacement parts.

This can have real effects on your operations. The fewer vehicles you operate, the more pronounced those effects will be, since a single out of commission vehicle can require you to alter your entire schedule.

A single DVIR can have a ripple effect: the report delays a delivery, and an identified problem requires the delivery to be further delayed or canceled. This delays other deliveries, or requires drivers of other vehicles to move more quickly.

Over time, this can erode your reputation with your customers, tempt drivers to drive too quickly, and cost lots of money. It’s nearly impossible to plan for the unanticipated time constraints of DVIRs, leaving managers to deal with stress and continual schedule changes.

Paper management

Under the law, fleets must retain DVIR forms for a minimum of three months. For many fleet managers, especially those operating large fleets, it makes sense to retain these forms much longer. Doing so can help you monitor trends over time, support insurance claims, and even serve as evidence of vehicle maintenance if you are ever sued.

The problem is that these forms quickly create an avalanche of paper. You’ll quickly accumulate hundreds -- or thousands, or hundreds of thousands, depending on the size of your fleet -- of forms. Even if you’re able to neatly stack them in a box, how will you find the paperwork you need. If you’re like most managers, you'll end up with an office filled with useless paper, and find yourself on the verge of panic if you ever need to locate a specific form.

DVIR Forms: How Technology Makes it All Better

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Technology can make life stressful. If you’re already dealing with the stress of operating a fleet, the last thing you want to do is add to your stress burden. But DVIR forms in digital format can actually reduce your stress load -- really.

So why should you consider switching to online forms? Consider the following:

  • You’ll never again have to deal with an avalanche of paperwork. If you need something, it’s there and searchable. No more banker’s boxes. No more piles of paper in your office. No more fines for noncompliance or lost papers. This means less stress, more time to do what you want, and full documentation of everything related to DVIRs.
  • Digital inspection forms save time. Everything you need is readily accessible -- no need to go digging through your office, deal with outdated forms, or wonder what happened to page two.
  • Digital inspection forms eliminate perfunctory inspections. Designing your own forms allows you to ask questions that force drivers to conduct physical inspections that keep everyone safe -- not just check off a bunch of boxes.
  • Digital inspection forms free managers to view forms wherever they are. This can empower them to take vacations, take time off when they're sick, and trust that everything is operating smoothly even in their absence.
  • Digital DVIR forms save money. You won't pay non compliance fines, have to worry about missed vehicle repairs, have to pay for a storage space to store your paperwork, or invest in a substitute manager to hound drivers on the manager’s day off. For many companies, this adds up to thousands of dollars in savings over time -- not to mention the reduction in stress.
  • Digital DVIR forms give everyone more time. Time is money. When managers are freed up to do other tasks, they can help the company earn more money, fulfill other job duties, and enjoy their free time.

What Whip Around Offers

Whip Around takes the convenience of digital DVIR forms to the next level. Ideal for fleets of any size, we make the process of pre-trip inspections seamless:

  • Build customized, attractive forms in just minutes. We help you build forms specific to the needs of your fleet, that still comply with the law. Take just a few minutes and witness how easy it is to build forms that drivers understand, and that encourage them to take inspections seriously.
  • Access DVIR forms anywhere. Our mobile inspection forms mean that drivers can inspect a vehicle using just their smartphone. And managers can review inspections and other important reports no matter where they are.
  • Manage flagged faults wherever you are. You can take action on inspection reports effortlessly, noting where the vehicle is in the repair process and assigning repairs to the mechanic of your choice.
  • Create individual profiles and teams for drivers, allowing you to manage them wherever they are and wherever you are.
  • Extensive administrative controls. Add users and assign permissions as needed. Don’t worry about compromised data.
  • Extreme reliability. With up time of greater than 99.99%, you don’t have to worry about an outage meaning you can’t access your data.
  • Maintain detailed analytics about your vehicles. This allows you to track changes over time, and potentially to gather important pieces of data -- such as which drivers tend to have the most and fewest vehicle issues, and which vehicles cost the most to repair.

How Whip Around Improves Quality of Life

Whip Around is more than just a useful tool. It’s a way to improve productivity, cultivate success, and improve everyone's quality of life. Our goal is to help you get more done more quickly, so you can focus on building your company, managing your staff, and enjoying your life.

Once you’re set up with Whip Around:

  • You’ll have more time for company projects, time with your family, or getting to know your drivers.
  • You’ll have fewer compliance issues. That means more money and less stress.
  • You won’t have to constantly be in the office overseeing drivers. Take a vacation. Visit your clients. Develop a new marketing plan. Enjoy your freedom.
  • You’ll have everything available when you need it, and can retain records for years.

We make fleet management easier, and alleviate stress for drivers, managers, owners, and mechanics. We’re so convinced you’ll love what we have to offer that we offer free accounts and extensive support  to get set up. There’s no obligation -- only a chance to better manage your fleet.

Ready to give it a try?

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