This post is part of a series sponsored by IAT Insurance Group.
When commercial drivers are stopped for DOT roadside inspections, low tire pressure, a faulty brake light, or any number of equipment malfunctions can result in assessed violations, fines, and potential outage-related downtime. Each of these can adversely affect a vehicle operator’s DOT compliance record.
It is estimated that idle vehicles can cost fleets an average of $850 to $1,000 per day. Additionally, failure to deliver goods on time can lead to customer dissatisfaction and possibly lost revenue from your customer taking their business elsewhere.
In a more serious scenario, a truck driver is involved in an accident when the brakes fail. When the plaintiff’s attorney learns that the driver failed to perform a federally required pre-trip inspection that day, the ramifications become greater.
The Federal Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulates pre-trip and post-trip inspections to be performed by truck drivers on each trip., When commercial driver license (CDL) operators follow documented policies and procedures to complete these equipment inspections, such as using the US DOT’s pre- and post-trip checklist, these problems can possibly be avoided. Unfortunately, many drivers fail to do so.
Of 59,000 road checks carried out during a three-day road safety campaign last year, 14,428 infringements were issued for braking systems, tyres, defective service brakes, lights and load securing.
Check the boxes to reduce the violations
To significantly reduce the risk of violations and to ensure that equipment is safe to use, these best practices can help fleets train and motivate their drivers to perform the required safety checks on a daily basis.
- Take a walking tour twice a day. When drivers make a habit of walking around their vehicle twice a day and inspecting components such as tires, lights, brakes and the turntable, any necessary repairs can be noted and addressed. This is also the perfect time to complete the Driver Vehicle Inspection Report (DVIR).3
Consider using a pre-trip inspection app to make inspections easier for drivers. Instead of a paper form, the use of an electronic eDVIR can help streamline the process, encourage participation and reduce inspection time.
- Include pre- and post-trip inspection in your annual training and onboarding. Teach and/or review the step-by-step process for completing a proper equipment inspection to your drivers and emphasize its importance. In addition, instruct them on how to properly document that they have completed the inspection.
Emphasize the time frame needed to perform a pre- or post-trip inspection. Reassure drivers that their daily pre-trip inspection should only take 10 minutes or no more than 15 minutes.
- Report your findings. When problems are discovered during the equipment inspection process, take care of the problem immediately. Owner-operators should arrange to immediately fix their truck or trailer, and vehicle drivers should be trained to inform managers immediately.
Document and maintain files on all equipment showing when inspections, service and repairs are completed. In the event of an accident, it is important to ensure that these files are available.
- Be aware of common violations. Commonly known as BLTs for equipment violations – brakes, lights and tires – fleets should instruct their drivers to be extra diligent in inspecting these areas, as they are the most commonly assessed equipment violations. In addition to inspecting their vehicle, drivers must prepare and sign a written report showing any defects or deficiencies that could affect operational safety or lead to mechanical failure of parts and accessories.
The following should be examined during each pre-1 and after the trip2 inspection, according to FMCSA:
- Service brakes including trailer brake connections
- Parking brake (hand).
- Steering mechanism
- Lighting devices and reflectors
- Windscreen wiper
- Rear view mirrors
- Coupling devices
- Wheels and rims
- Emergency equipment
- Discuss how equipment violations affect the company. Inform your drivers that DOT violations lead to additional inspections, possible loss of customers due to poor DOT compliance, and increased insurance costs. Good equipment inspections help keep your drivers and the public safe.
ASK A LOSS CONTROL REPRESENTATIVE
Do you have a question about how to reduce risk? Email firstname.lastname@example.org for a chance to see your question answered in a future blog. FMCSA “6.3.4 Equipment, Inspection, and Use (392.7-392.9),” Accessed March 21, 2023.  Code of Federal Regulations “396.11 Driver Vehicle Inspection Report(s), March 17, 2023.  FMCSA “Driver’s Vehicle Inspection Report”, Accessed March 21, 2023.  Josh Fisher “Bad brakes, fake logs were top 2022 Roadcheck violations,” 14 Sep 2022.
The most important insurance news, in your inbox every working day.
Get the insurance industry’s trusted newsletter