5 best practices for carrying out pre- and post-flight inspections

This post is part of a series sponsored by IAT Insurance Group.

5 Best Practices for Executing Pre and Post Trip Inspections Smaart Company Accounting, Tax, & Insurance Services Smaart Company Accounting, Tax, & Insurance Services

When commercial drivers are pulled over for DOT roadside inspections, an under-inflated tire, malfunctioning brake light, or any number of other equipment failures can result in appraisal violations, fines, and possible exit-related downtime. Each of these can negatively impact a carrier’s DOT compliance record.

It is estimated that out of service vehicles can cost fleets an average of $850 to $1,000 per day. Additionally, failure to deliver goods on time can result in customer dissatisfaction and a potential loss of revenue from the customer moving their business elsewhere.

In a more serious scenario, the truck driver gets into an accident when the brakes fail. When the plaintiff’s attorney discovers that the driver failed a federally required pre-trip inspection that day, the repercussions mount.

The Federal Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulates pre- and post-trip inspections that truck drivers perform on each trip.[1]And[2] When CDL operators follow documented policies and procedures in completing these equipment checks, such as using the US Department of Transportation’s Pre- and Post-Flight Checklist,[3] These problems can be avoided. Unfortunately, many drivers fail to do so.

Of the 59,000 roadside inspections carried out during last year’s three-day road safety campaign, 14,428 tickets were issued for brake systems, tyres, defective service brakes, lights and cargo insurance.[4]

Check the boxes to reduce violations

To significantly reduce the potential for violations and to ensure equipment is safe to operate, best practices can help fleets educate and motivate their drivers to perform the required daily safety checks.

  1. Take a walk twice daily. When drivers are in the habit of walking around their vehicle twice a day, checking components such as tires, lights, brakes, and the fifth wheel, any repairs that may be required can be noticed and addressed. This is also an ideal opportunity to fill out a Driver Vehicle Inspection Report (DVIR).

Consider using a pre-trip inspection app to make checks easier for drivers. Instead of a paper form, using an electronic eDVIR can help streamline the process, encourage participation, and reduce screening time.

  1. Include pre- and post-flight screening in your annual training and preparation. Teach and/or review the step-by-step process for completing an appropriate equipment check for drivers and stress its importance. In addition, instruct them on how to properly document that they have completed the examination.

Emphasize the timeframe for a pre- or post-flight check-up. Reassure drivers that the daily pre-journey check should take 10 or 15 minutes at most.

  1. Report your results. When problems are discovered during the equipment inspection process, take care of the problem immediately. Owners and operators must arrange for their truck or trailer to be repaired immediately, and fleet drivers must be trained to report to managers immediately.

Document and maintain files on all equipment that show when inspections, service, and repairs have been completed. In the event of an accident, it is essential to ensure that these files are available.

  1. Beware of common violations. Known as a BLT for equipment violations — brakes, lights, tires — fleets should instruct their drivers to be extra careful in checking these areas, as they are the most common equipment violations assessed. In addition to having their vehicle inspected, drivers must prepare and sign a written report listing any defect or defect that may affect operational safety or lead to mechanical breakdown of parts and accessories.

The following should be checked during each pre-1 And after the flight2 Inspection, as per FMCSA:

  • Service brakes, including trailer brake hitches
  • Handbrake
  • Steering mechanism
  • Lighting devices and reflectors
  • Tires
  • trumpet
  • windshield wipers
  • rearview mirrors
  • coupling devices
  • Wheels and rims
  • emergency equipment
  1. Discuss how equipment violations affect the company. Inform drivers that DOT violations result in additional inspections, potential loss of customers due to a poor DOT compliance record and increased insurance costs. Good equipment inspections help keep drivers and the general public safe.

Ask a loss control representative

Have a question about how to mitigate risks? Email losscontroldirect@iatinsurance.com for a chance to see your question answered in a future blog.

[1] FMCSA “6.3.4 Equipment, Examination, and Use (392.7-392.9),” Accessed March 21, 2023.

[2] Code of Federal Regulations “396.11 Driver Vehicle Inspection Report(s),” March 17, 2023.

[3] FMCSA “Driver Vehicle Inspection Report,” Accessed March 21, 2023.

[4] Josh Fisher “Bad Brakes, False Records Were Most Common In 2022 Road Violations,” September 14, 2022.

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