This means if you don’t adhere to the set requirements, not only will you receive penalties from the DOT, but you could potentially end up with a Santa Claus style list of infractions.
But they don’t just give you a lump of coal, they give you fines, penalties, summons, reduced safety ratings, and can even impound the vehicle (and cargo).
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Speaking as a parent, I would rather deal with the child who was mad about the toy being left behind than all of that. Because, you can simply either return home and get the toy or buy them a new one.
But imagine if your failure to perform a DOT pre-trip inspection resulted in all that.
You’d still have to answer to your employer or business partners and pay your lawyer to appeal the down grading of your safety rating as maintained by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).
As a company truck driver you might be looking for a new position! Yes, I realize this is perhaps a little overboard, the worst case scenario as they say, but, you must take your DOT pre-trip inspection serious. Because there is much more at stake than the time you spend performing it.
Ok, so I think I have beat (and tried ride again) the dead horse on this. So what is the actual inspection? Well each company has the freedom to create its own program, and set their own standards.
Pre-trip Inspection For Class A Trucks
Every major organization that has fleet vehicles must have pre-trip inspection Class A checklist. Whether it is a small trucking company or major transporter they need to perform pre-trip inspections.
They must meet the DOT pre-trip inspection requirements . Companies can make them to be even more in-depth but can’t be a lower level.
For example the Department of Labor (DOL) observes the standard OSHA pre-trip inspection. The following is taken directly from their website:
Vehicle Inspection Checklist
At the beginning of each shift, all vehicles that will be used must be inspected to assure that they are in safe operating condition and free of apparent damage that could lead to an accident.
All defects must be corrected before the vehicle is placed in service.
Inspect the following parts, equipment, and accessories:
- Service brakes, including trailer brake connections
- Parking system (hand brake)
- Emergency stopping system (emergency brake)
- Coupling devices
- Seat belts
- Steering mechanism
- Operating controls
- Safety devices (e.g. reverse signal alarm, rollover protective structure (ROPS), etc.)
Additional items if necessary:
- Windshield wipers and liquids
- Fire extinguishers
CDL Pre-trip Inspection Checklist
A CDL Pre-trip inspection checklist is essential for any driver or organization. Now as stated not every organization will need to adhere to the DOL example.
There are numerous templates and formats that can be used to create a CDL pre-trip inspection checklist. But the DOT does lay out the basic requirements.
Now as stated not every organization will need to adhere to that example. Here is the full text from the DOT link provided above.
396.11: Driver vehicle inspection report(s)
Equipment provided by motor carrier. (1) Report required. 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 shall cover at least the following parts and accessories:
- Service brakes including trailer brakes connections;
- Parking brake;
- Steering mechanism;
- Lighting devices and reflectors;
- Windshield wipers;
- Rear vision mirrors;
- Coupling devices;
- Wheels and rims;
- Emergency equipment.
(2) Report content. 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.
If a driver operates more than one vehicle during the day, a report must be prepared for each vehicle operated.
The driver of a passenger-carrying CMV subject to this regulation must prepare and submit a report even if no defect or deficiency is discovered by or reported to the driver; the drivers of all other commercial motor vehicles are not required to prepare or submit a report if no defect or deficiency is discovered by or reported to the driver. (ii) The driver must sign the report.
On two-driver operations, only one driver needs to sign the driver vehicle inspection report, provided both drivers agree as to the defects or deficiencies identified.
(3) Corrective action. 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 or its agent shall certify on the original driver vehicle inspection report which lists any defect or deficiency that the defect or deficiency has been repaired or that repair is unnecessary before the vehicle is operated again.
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(4) Retention period for reports. 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.
(5) Exceptions. The rules in this section shall not apply to a private motor carrier of passengers (nonbusiness), a driveaway-towaway operation, or any motor carrier operating only one commercial motor vehicle.
Equipment provided by intermodal equipment provider. (1) Report required. Every intermodal equipment provider must have a process to receive driver reports of, and each driver or motor carrier transporting intermodal equipment must report to the intermodal equipment provider or its designated agent, any known damage, defects, or deficiencies in the intermodal equipment at the time the equipment is returned to the provider or the provider’s designated agent. The report must include, at a minimum, the following parts and accessories:
- Lighting devices, lamps, marker lights, and conspicuity marking material;
- Wheels, rims, lugs, tires;
- Air line connections, hoses, and couplers;
- King pin upper coupling device;
- Rails or support frames;
- Tie down bolsters;
- Locking pins, clevises, clamps, or hooks;
- Sliders or sliding frame lock;
(2) Report content. Name of the motor carrier responsible for the operation of the intermodal equipment at the time the damage, defects, or deficiencies were discovered by, or reported to, the driver.
- Motor carrier’s USDOT number; intermodal equipment provider’s USDOT number, and a unique identifying number for the item of intermodal equipment.
- Date and time the report was submitted.
- All damage, defects, or deficiencies of the intermodal equipment reported to the equipment provider and discovered by, or reported to, the motor carrier or its driver which would
- Affect the safety of operation of the intermodal equipment, or
- Result in its mechanical breakdown while transported on public roads.
- The signature of the driver who prepared the report.
(3) Corrective action. Prior to allowing or permitting a motor carrier to transport a piece of intermodal equipment for which a motor carrier or driver has submitted a report about damage, defects or deficiencies, each intermodal equipment provider or its agent must repair the reported damage, defects, or deficiencies that are likely to affect the safety of operation of the vehicle.