Truck Driver Pre-Trip Inspections

As a professional and experienced truck driver, you know that you are to perform a vehicle inspection once every 24 hours. You also understand that you use “Schedule 1,” titled, Daily Inspection of Trucks, Tractors, and Trailers to assist you with the inspection. And the last thing I know that every professional truck driver knows is that this list has 23 inspection items to be checked every 24 hours.

When we know all this, why do some “steering wheel holders” not do adequate vehicle inspections? Why do some people take shortcuts and skip this vital safety step? And this is a step that can save you money, save you time, prevent crashes and save your career!

Let us explore each of these.

Let’s look at “Save You Money”
I believe that the officers in our trucking world have quotas. In other words, they must write tickets as part of their job. Their superior officer would question their job performance if an officer did not write enough tickets. If you too believe this statement, as I do, you also know that since the implementation of electronic logging devices (ELD), the number of “Hours of Service” tickets being written has dropped dramatically. Then, what are officers during scale inspections writing tickets for? Well, let's look at what is left. A few tickets for hours of service, then we look at other paperwork such as do you have proof of insurance, CVOR’s certificate, vehicle ownership, and annual inspection. The officer will also look much closer at the vehicle. It is the vehicle that I believe the officers are writing more tickets for than ever before. I have seen tickets for ABS lights, insufficient warning devices, and unsecured or uncharged fire extinguishers. (A long list of other vehicle defects.) I mentioned these items because they are often not checked during a driver’s vehicle inspection, if the inspection is done at all.

Also ignored often are brakes and especially brake strokes. Each driver needs to do a brake stroke inspection visually. Many carriers help drivers by putting brake stroke indicators on their units. Are you using the brake stroke indicator? Do you know that when the brakes are applied, the stroke of the brake should look like it’s at 90°?

If you want to avoid tickets, you must do a much better vehicle inspection. And, of course, by avoiding tickets, you are saving money.

Save Time
I realize that “saving time” is hard to prove. Are you skipping your 15 to 30-minute vehicle
inspection, or reducing that check to five minutes certainly saves you time each day? When you get a vehicle inspection, they often take 45 minutes to an hour and a half. Each time I got inspected as a truck driver; I was constantly stressed out even though I did a vehicle inspection. And as a driver, who was getting paid by the mile, I frequently was never compensated for this time. I was fortunate to be never put out of service at a scale; however, many of you cannot say the same thing. If you are set “out of service” on a scale and must wait for a mechanic to come and repair it, you are not being paid in most cases. This is a lot of time you lost on your HOS and did not make money. As always, time is money.

Save Your Career
The last point about “saving your career” is also valid. If you get too many vehicle inspections with violations recorded on them, you may be unable to find a new job. Your current employer may also be forced to terminate your agreement. With a terrible Abstract, Motor Vehicle Record (MVR), how will you find new work? I know that you will find the job, and it will be for a company that doesn’t care about you and your safety.

In wrapping up, this article, let me add a few more thoughts.

Some drivers don’t do a good vehicle inspection because they feel they are not paid to do the task. Those who believe this and don't do the check are taking a considerable risk and I believe losing money.

Encourage your trucking company to put Brake Stroke Indicators on every unit and promise your company that you will use the darn things.

Lastly, be safe. Make as much money safely every day that you legally can. Make money safely and get the maximum number of dollars home. In this way, you bring home the dollars earned to your family. Which I believe is every truck driver’s goal.
Be safe.

Chris Harris has been around trucks all his life. His Grandfather and Father both owned trucking companies. Chris started in the trucking industry in his early 20’s and ever since has been in the involved. He started his career as a driver, then manager then into the safety department. Chris learned how insurance companies viewed safety when he joined a trucking insurer. Over that 14-year period with the Insurnace company, he honed his safety expertise.  In 2015, Chris started on his own, forming Safety Dawg Inc. Safety Dawg Inc is a well-trusted safety consultant company who helps their clients with their CVOR, SMS, Trucking insurance and compliance. Over the years, Chris has earned the designations, Certified Director of Safety (CDS), Canadian Risk Management (CRM) and Chartered Insurance Professional (CIP). And Chris now is a co-host of a weekly podcast. Every Friday he releases a new episode of the “Trucking Risk and Insurance Podcast.”  The show appears on YouTube and in your favourite podcast player.