Pre-trip inspection

What is a DOT Pre-Trip Inspection Checklist?

What is a DOT Pre-Trip Inspection Checklist?

The pre-trip inspection is a fundamental safety procedure best practiced by all CMV (commercial motor vehicle) operators to ensure safe over-the-road operation. A thorough pre-trip inspection checklist is required to eliminate all possible mechanical or safety issues before departure to ensure smooth over-the-road operations. Identifying damage or maintenance issues early on should be the first step.

Conduct Pre-Trip Vehicle Inspection Reports from your Phone with eDVIR

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Driver vehicle inspection reports (DVIR) are already an integral part of managing your fleet. So, when it comes to how best to coordinate this critical task, the question isn’t so much whether DVIR is worth the effort — it absolutely is — but how best to go about satisfying this requirement and maintaining the protection it affords you and your business.

Electronic DVIR gives you the chance to revolutionize your approach to filing detailed reports, even presenting you with the capability to conduct pre-trip inspections on your phone. It’s a whole new day for DVIR. So let’s delve into how this latest tool works and how it can facilitate your business.

A MODERN SOLUTION

In the old days, DVIR would present you with a record of your vehicle’s condition, one which could serve as evidence to both the vehicle’s condition if an accident should occur and which ensures that the likelihood of any such incident would be minimized. After all, vehicle collisions are among the most common causes of death.

Thankfully, eDVIR plays the same essential role in your fleet management, albeit with a streamlined methodology that emphasizes ease of use and accuracy above all else. Drivers still need to complete and submit forms before and after each trip, but electronic reports allow for a level of customization and access that just isn’t possible by traditional means.

What once proved to be a burden actually creates a smoother environment for all. While drivers will find these electronic forms so much more accessible, you’ll be able to shed the worry about when you’ll receive the latest inspection reports and how to proceed. eDVIR uses a cloud-based system, meaning you’ll be able to evaluate reports instantly and leap into action to address any outstanding concerns.

In general, this new system facilitates the your ability to keep your fleet running strong and eliminates the need for copious paperwork. Less work and a more streamlined process make less work for everyone involved and boost your fleet’s capacity to handle each project in a timely manner.

THE FULL ADVANTAGE

You’ve already assembled a winning team, but the way you do business very likely could use a tune-up. So let’s break down some of the key benefits that eDVIR offers. First, we’ve alluded to the time savings already, but seeing as time is one of the most limited resources you need, this aspect of eDVIR stands above all others.

Since you can build and customize your own forms, inspection reports can be completed in a fraction of the time they once were and, thanks to the mobile capability, they can be completed from anywhere at anytime via a smartphone or other mobile device. Simply log in to the system, complete the form and submit it, and it is automatically saved in the system and added to the unlimited storage of your archives.

This ability to have the latest information right at your fingertips makes it that much easier to schedule necessary maintenance and repairs, keeping you one step ahead of your competitors. Moreover, the simplified forms reduce the chance that human error will interfere with your operation. After all, you never know when you’ll need to submit your full reports for audit.

You’ll already have them ready in waiting in your digital storage space, but now you’ll be far more confident in how well they’ll reflect the activities of your fleet. Once you give eDVIR a try, we know you’ll see the difference instantly and probably wonder why you spent so long wasting time on its paper-based counterpart.

CHECKING IT TWICE

Though the system is vastly modernized, eDVIR still functions like the DVIR you’re used to. You’ll still need to run through a checklist of inspection points just like you’re filling out a paper form. You’ll simply be doing so from the convenience of your mobile device. Here are the most important elements you’ll need to review before starting a new trip:

  • Brakes: Your vehicle has many critical parts that must be working properly to ensure the safety of your drivers and others on the road. Needless to say, your brakes are among the most important. Of course, don’t forget your service and parking brakes.

  • Steering and horn: Your driver’s ability to accurately pilot the vehicle without incident depends on the soundness of the steering mechanism. But don’t forget to verify that your horn is working as it should. If something does go wrong, this is the best way to let others know.

  • Tires and wheels: When you’re on the road as much as your fleet is, your tires certainly take the bulk of the damage. If they don’t have sufficient tread on them, you could be heading for disaster. So be mindful of the condition of your tires and wheels before you hit the road, including whether your tires simply need a bit of air first.

  • Lights and reflectors: Like your tires, your lights reflect the natural wear and tear that occurs when you’re always on the road. Check that they are all working properly and all that reflectors are attached. You’d be surprised how often such a simple item can make a life-changing difference.

  • Windshield wipers and mirrors: Especially when you’re driving a large commercial vehicle, your mirrors are your greatest hope to orient yourself with the other cars on the road. Likewise, your windshield wipers defend against the changing conditions you may encounter and require frequent replacement.

  • Emergency kit: If you do find yourself in a dire situation, an emergency kit filled with maintenance repair items and other must-haves can really come in handy. You never know what might happen out there. So your best bet is to be ready for a crisis if one does occur.

A WORLD OF DIFFERENCE

We can’t imagine you’re still doubting how eDVIR can enhance your fleet management skills, but if you do need more information about how it compares to traditional DVIR, you might want to check out our handy infographic. The benefits of taking your inspection reports into the modern world are already apparent, and the technology is quickly on its way to becoming the standard-bearer throughout the industry.

Don’t let your competition get an edge on you, especially when eDVIR can maximize your productivity and efficiency in such a significant way. To get started for free, visit our website and sign up for a demo of Whip Around today.

Why Are Pre-Trip Vehicle Inspections Required?

Fleet managers have a wide and seemingly endless array of responsibilities -- assigning drivers to cars, managing supply chain issues, promoting, hiring, firing and so much more. Staying on top of pre-trip vehicle inspections can feel like little more than another headache, and a meaningless hassle.

Yet these pre-trip vehicle inspections are non negotiable. A driver-vehicle inspection report (DVIR) is a key part of your daily operations. Here’s why inspections are so important -- and what you can do to make them a bit less stressful.

IT’S THE LAW

DVIRs are more than just a burden imposed on employees by employers. They’re required under federal law. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) requires pre-trip inspections before each haul. The driver must be satisfied that all parts are in good working order. If they’re not, the vehicle must be repaired before anyone can drive it.

Some important highlights of the law include:

  • Companies aren’t required to use any specific form, but they are required to use a form that ensures all major parts of the vehicle are fully inspected and in good working order.

  • The inspection must occur before each daily haul. So a driver taking a multi-day trip must perform an inspection each day.

  • The driver or company must certify that the inspection has occurred, and that all parts are safe and in good working order.

Companies that fail to comply with the law can land in serious trouble. They may be fined or even lose licenses or certifications. This can cost your company lots of money, and may even cost you your job. Though inspections can be a pain, the cost of not doing them is much higher. Do you really want to spend your day explaining a failure to inspect a vehicle, or testifying in a deposition?

IT KEEPS PEOPLE SAFE

Pre-trip inspections keep people safe -- both truckers and motorists. Trucks are massive vehicles, and a minor issue on a truck is not like a minor issue on a car. Consider how a flat tire on a truck can cause a multi-car pileup, or how an item flying out of the back of a trailer could be fatal to motorists.

Likewise, a major accident could injure or even kill a driver. Your drivers are the backbone of your company. They're also human beings with lives and families. So it’s important to help them understand that pre-trip inspections are for their own safety as well. Driving a truck is one of the deadliest jobs in the U.S., with nearly 800 truckers dying on the road each year. Pre-trip inspections make driving safer for everyone.

Research has shown that a leading cause of trucking accidents is vehicle maintenance issues. Failure to complete a pre-trip inspectionin compliance with the law is also a leading cause of trucking suits. This is why it’s so critically important to perform daily comprehensive inspections -- not just perfunctory reviews that involve little more than checking off a few boxes.

IT TRACKS PATTERNS OVER TIME

Does it feel like a truck is always broken, or like you’re spending too much money on tires? Pre-trip inspection reports help you track trends over time. This can help you determine whether there's a problem with a truck, a mechanic, a part, a driver or something else.

You might find that vehicles tend to break more after being serviced by a particular mechanic. Or perhaps you have more trouble with your trucks whom a specific trucker drives. Identifying these patterns can help you prevent them from spiraling out of control. This can save you money, and may even save lives on the road.

IT CAN PROTECT YOUR COMPANY

Sooner or later, there will be an accident or injury. It could be unavoidable, because of a tire that blows. Or it might be because a driver made a simple but costly error. In either scenario, you will eventually have to answer for what happened.

What will you say to the lawyer in depositions? How will you provide information about the vehicle’s history? How can you prove that you were committed to safety at all times, and that trucks were diligently and consistently inspected?

This is where pre-trip inspections come into play. They act as a sort of due diligence, serving as evidence of a consistent commitment to safety. They show that you have properly and timely inspected your vehicles and made repairs. They show a commitment to compliance with the law. They may even reveal a problem with a part. For instance, if many trucking companies have problems with the same part, this could mean that the part is the problem and needs to be recalled.

Without these inspection reports, you may look negligent. This can be used against you in court, and in the court of public opinion. Regular inspections -- plus intelligent storing of the DVIRs they produce -- are key to protecting your company.

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MAKING PRE-TRIP INSPECTIONS LESS STRESSFUL

At Whip Around, we understand that pre-trip inspections are vital to your company’s operations, to driver safety, and to safer roads. We also know that these inspections can be a massive pain. That’s why we’ve made it our mission to keep truckers safe and minimize hassle.

We offer customizable forms. Simply check a few boxes and build your own forms. This makes it easier for drivers to understand inspection requirements, and can reduce their temptation to cut corners by simply checking a few boxes. Our forms encourage drivers to really commit to safety inspections.

Because we store the forms for you, we also put an end to messy offices and endless piles of paper. If you need a form at any time for any reason, it’s searchable and readily accessible. No more clutter. No more lost documents. No more concerns about fines, lawsuits, or failure to comply with government regulations.

You have enough on your plate. Stop worrying about pre-trip inspections. Let us do the heavy lifting, so you can get back to the business of running your fleet. Ready to learn more? Call us today to learn how we can help you!

What is DVIR (Driver Vehicle Inspection Report)?

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It's that pesky form you have to fill out before you go on a haul. For some truck drivers it's the bane of their existence. In fact, some drivers will avoid it at all costs. It’s that frustrating, time-consuming task known as the Driver Vehicle Inspection Report (DVIR).

You may be wondering:

  • What is it?

  • What’s the big deal about them?

  • Can DVIRs benefit you, or are they just a government required nuisance?

  • How can you get them done faster?

We’ll cover all this and more in this post. Fasten your seatbelts, and let’s get this show on the road.

WHAT IS DVIR?

The DVIR is the formal record, be it on paper or paperless, that confirms a driver has thoroughly inspected their commercial motor vehicle before taking it on out on the road. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), completing a DVIR is required for each vehicle every day the vehicle is in use.

WHAT’S THE BIG DEAL ABOUT DVIR ANYWAY?

Why is it that some people like the Department of Transportation, your boss, fleet manager, etc…, get bent out of shape about whether or not you’ve done your DVIR before you drive your commercial vehicle? Perhaps it’s because the DVIR is what lets you know if your vehicle is road-ready.

By not completing it, you can't be certain as to whether or not your vehicle is safe to be on the road. And the truth is, there are many things that can cause your commercial vehicle to be unsafe on the road. To put it bluntly, every time you go out without inspecting your vehicle for defects or faults, you are putting yourself and others at risk.

WHAT TYPES OF THINGS SHOULD YOU BE CHECKING FOR IN YOUR DVIR?

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At a minimum your DVIR should include inspection of the following parts and accessories:

(i) Windshield, windshield wiper, sun visor and mirror

  • Do the wipers work correctly?

  • Is the windshield clean and not cracked?

  • Are you confident the wiper blades are not damaged?

  • Is the washer fluid container full?

  • Is your windshield washer fluid operating correctly?

(ii) Lights and indicators

  • Are all lights work correctly including hazard lights?

  • What about the lenses? Are they clean, free from discoloration, and not cracked?

(iii) Left wheels and tires

  • Are your tires correctly inflated, and not damaged?

  • Are the wheel nuts on them tight?

  • Did you check that there are no cuts or bulges in the tire’s side walls?

  • Is your tread path adequate?

(iv) Are there any fluid leaks on the left side of the vehicle from the engine, fuel system, waste water tank or any other part?

(v) Reflectors, toe coupling, tail lights, indicators and air hoses

  • Are all of these fitted, working, clean and not damaged?

(vi) Are there any fluid leaks on the right side of the vehicle from the engine, fuel system, waste water tank or any other part?

(vii) Right wheels and tires - check for the same things you looked for on the left side tires:

  • Tires are correctly inflated and not damaged

  • Wheel nuts are tight

  • No cuts or bulges

  • Adequate tread path

(viii) Doors and seat belts

  • Do all doors open and close fully? Check the left side, right side and back doors. You also want to make sure all locks and latches work correctly too.

  • Is the fire extinguisher serviced and ready for use?

  • What about your seat belts? Are those working properly?

(ix) Horn and speedometer

  • Is the horn working correctly?

  • Is the speedometer is working properly?

(x) Additional things to check before heading off on a haul:

  • Do you have any trouble steering the vehicle?

  • Are there any apparent air leaks anywhere?

  • Does the vehicle come to a full and complete stop when you apply the brakes?

  • Are all switches and warnings operating adequately?

  • Do you have sufficient fuel to complete your trip?

CAN DVIR’S ACTUALLY BENEFIT YOU, OR ARE THEY JUST A GOVERNMENT REQUIRED NUISANCE?

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When it comes to DVIR’s, it can sometimes feel as though the paperwork you're being required to complete is nothing more than a pain in the neck that government bureaucrats who don’t understand your job are enforcing just to give you a headache. You might even start to feel like they aren’t something that's really necessary unless your boss forces you to do it. This can feel especially true if you have been driving regularly for months or even years at a time without an incident.

However, if you're ever in a situation where your vehicle is not road-ready, and an incident does occur, you'll instantly understand why doing the DVIR is so critical not just for yourself, but for the safety of everybody on the road. Of course, we hope you never have to experience the potential fallout of driving an unsafe vehicle. Still, we thought we’d share just a few things that could happen should you blow off this task that you might feel is simply a waste of your time.

YOU COULD WRECK YOUR VEHICLE, AND BE FOUND AT FAULT.

Accidents happen everyday, and to be honest, not all of them, if any, will be your fault. Then again, there are many accidents that could have been prevented, and could cause you to be found at fault. Just a few examples where the truck driver could be found at fault for the accident include:

  • A brake failure that resulted in a wreck, because you didn’t notice that your brake fluid was leaking, and now your brakes have stopped working because the fluid ran dry. (A brake problem was even listed as one of the 10 most common causes of an accident when the commercial vehicle was determined to be at fault, according to Simmons and Fletcher, P.C.)

  • A fault in one of your tires led to a blow out, and you swerved into another lane as a result.

  • Your windshield had a small crack, that turned into a big one thanks to a bump in the road. It then impaired your vision, and caused a wreck.

  • You didn’t check the back latch on your vehicle, and while driving down the road at full speed, your entire haul flew out the back of the truck impaling several vehicles, and causing massive damage.

Think these incidents could never happen to you? Think again. Not only are they possible, they have happened, and caused hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of damage.

And, if you haven’t completed a DVIR, when the cops investigate the incident, you could:

  • Be found at fault

  • Get a fine

  • Lose your commercial driver’s license

  • Be sued (or your company could)

  • Be fired

In some cases, all of the above could happen as a result of an accident.

YOU COULD KILL SOMEONE OR YOURSELF.

You might believe it’s a little far-fetched to think that failure to complete a DVIR could result in a death. But, consider this - The FMCSA compiled a report called “Large Truck and Bus Crash Facts.” In the report they found, “There were 11.2 fatal large truck crashes per million people in the United States in 2015, a 6-percent increase from 2010.”

And, of those numbers they concluded: “Vehicle-related factors were coded for 6 percent of the large trucks involved in fatal crashes and 3 percent of the passenger vehicles involved in fatal crashes. ‘Other Working Vehicle’ and ‘Tires’ were the most common vehicle-related factors for large trucks in fatal crashes... ‘Tires’ was the most frequently coded vehicle-related factor for passenger vehicles in fatal crashes.”

While the odds are in your favor that you’ll never have to deal with a fatality as a result of an incident on the road, these numbers speak to the point that DVIRs are not just a waste of time. They are there to help you find small problems before they have the chance to become big ones.

What vehicle-related factors are you overlooking every time you skip a pre-trip inspection?

WHAT ARE THE FEDERAL REGULATIONS FOR DVIRS?

According to the Electronic Code of Federal Regulations, here are some of the rules as they are related to DVIRs:

  • Every motor carrier shall require its drivers to report, and every driver shall prepare a report in writing at the completion of each day's work on each vehicle operated, except for intermodal equipment tendered by an intermodal equipment provider.

  • The report must identify the vehicle and list any defect or deficiency discovered by or reported to the driver which would affect the safety of operation of the vehicle or result in its mechanical breakdown.

  • The driver must sign the report.

  • Prior to requiring or permitting a driver to operate a vehicle, every motor carrier or its agent shall repair any defect or deficiency listed on the driver vehicle inspection report which would be likely to affect the safety of operation of the vehicle.

  • Every motor carrier shall maintain the original driver vehicle inspection report, the certification of repairs, and the certification of the driver's review for three months from the date the written report was prepared.

If you drive a commercial vehicle, you should be completing DVIRs. And, if your company is not enforcing this, your vehicle is not in compliance with federal regulations. This could result in fines, lost wages, and other inconveniences for you and/or your company.

HOW CAN COMPLETING YOUR DVIRS BENEFIT YOU OR YOUR COMPANY?

Being compliant with federal regulations can keep your truck on the road. Every day that your vehicle isn’t on the road can cost as much as $1,000 or more. In other words, completing your DVIR could save your day’s wages.

For example. if you’re pulled over for a roadside inspection and have not completed a DVIR, it could lead to a more thorough inspection by the DOT. If they find any faults your truck could be taken off the road until the repairs can be made. The longer those repairs take, the longer you are losing money.

Another benefit of completing DVIRs is that your company will save money. Every time they learn of a problem with a vehicle, it will be repaired and get back on the road that much faster. Smaller problems cost less time and money to fix, and this will give your company’s bottom line a boost. That makes for happier bosses and managers, and ultimately happier employees.

When companies enforce completion of DVIRs they can also save money on insurance premiums. Having those DVIRs in hand is auditable proof to an insurance provider that the vehicles in a fleet are being maintained, and are as safe as they can be on the road.

HOW CAN YOU GET A DVIR DONE FASTER?

Perhaps by now we have finally convinced you that you should be doing DVIRs regularly. Great! But, now you’re trying to figure out how to get them done faster. We get it! Time is money, and completing a DVIR takes time. And, if you’re using a paper based system, you’re wasting a lot more time and resources than necessary. All that ink, all those copies, all that paperwork...it’s unnecessary.

Enter Whip Around. Founded in January 2015, Whip Around is a mobile-based application that makes DVIR compliance quick and easy. Using a mobile device, you can simply pull up a pre-trip inspection form, fill it out with a few clicks, and then instantly submit it to your fleet manager. You can even report defects and faulty equipment within the platform, and you’ll be prompted to take a photo and add a comment to explain the issue.

The basic report installed with the application comes with the bare essentials of what you need to inspect a vehicle to be road ready. However, your fleet manager can also add their own inspection items to it in order to ensure everything is in tip-top shape before drivers go out on the road.

Once a DVIR is submitted, your fleet manager can assign the vehicle for repairs. Or, if everything checks out, you can hop on the road confident that your vehicle is safe. No paper, no hassle, just quick inspections, and instant submission. Being compliant with DVIRs has never been easier.

GET STARTED WITH WHIP AROUND TODAY!

Want to try out Whip Around for yourself? You can get started with a freemium account as soon as today. Click here to learn more about Whip Around’s features, or click here to create an account now.