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May 21, 2018

Why Are Pre-Trip Vehicle Inspections Required?

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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 inspection in 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.

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!

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