Before hitting the road each day, you need to complete a pre-trip inspection. Although it can start to seem repetitive to do this every day, it is absolutely essential for your safety and for Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) compliance. A thorough pre-trip inspection can help prevent accidents and save you time and trouble later on.
FMCSA Pre-Trip Inspection Requirements
Section 392.7 of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs) states that a driver must be satisfied that their vehicle is “in good working order” before driving it.
The section lists the following parts that drivers must check, at a minimum:
- Service brakes, including trailer brake connections
- Parking brake
- Steering mechanism
- Lighting devices and reflectors
- Windshield wiper(s)
- Rear-vision mirror(s)
- Coupling devices
- Wheels and rims
- Emergency equipment
A pre-trip inspection checklist can be helpful to ensure you thoroughly examine all necessary parts of your vehicle.
Why Do Pre-Trip Inspections Matter?
Some of the reasons it’s important to inspect your vehicle each day:
First and foremost, the major reason for pre-trip inspections is safety. Completing these inspections properly helps protect you as well as anyone else on the road. Vehicle malfunctions have the potential to cause accidents. Since semi-trucks are so much larger than passenger vehicles, accidents are often severe. The time it takes to inspect your truck is well worth it to help reduce the risk of an accident.
The FMCSA requires you to verify that your vehicle is safe to operate before you start your driving for the day. If you are not logging this time, a law enforcement officer or inspector can see this when reviewing your electronic logging device (ELD) record.
Additionally, any violations that are found during a roadside inspection can negatively affect your motor vehicle record (MVR). Checking before you start the day prevents this from happening.
If you don’t fix a mechanical issue right away, it can cause a breakdown later on. Although it can seem like getting an issue fixed will take longer than you would like, it actually saves time compared to needing to stop on the side of the highway. Roadside repairs are likely to leave you unable to drive for longer, increasing your downtime and reducing your earning potential.
Even if the issue doesn’t cause an accident, it could still result in being put out of service if an official finds it during a roadside inspection.
Additionally, keep in mind that the sooner you notice a problem, the easier it is to fix in most cases. Something that may take a short amount of time to repair now could easily become a large issue if you don’t address it.
We Are Committed to Driver Safety
At DSW, we are committed to safety and give our drivers the tools to stay compliant. We have 24/7 support available should you ever run into an issue while out on the road.