Published 20 Aug 2023
What is a Pre-trip Inspection?
A pre-trip inspection is a federally mandated inspection of a vehicle done daily within a 24-hour driving period to ensure its roadworthiness. Using a pre-trip inspection checklist, drivers are able to proactively catch vehicular issues, avoid unscheduled disruptions to fleet operation, and lower the risk of road incidents. Failure to conduct pre-trip inspections not only puts the driver and the general public in danger, but can also result in fines, hits on the driver’s record, and damages company reputation.
In this article
- Top Reasons Pre-trip Inspections are Neglected
- Why it’s Important
- Pre-Trip Inspection Requirements
- What Should a Pre-trip Inspection Include?
- Digital Tool for Managing Truck Fleets
- Featured Pre-trip Inspection Checklists
Top Reasons Pre-trip Inspections are Neglected
Pre-trip inspections are vital in proactively maintaining the safety of vehicles on the road. Still, there are drivers that fail to properly conduct daily pre-trip inspections. Here are the main reasons why:
- They are time-consuming
There are truck drivers that rush through completing pre-trip inspections, if at all. Conducting a thorough truck inspection–checking the engine compartment, lights, coupling system, tires, fuel tank, fire extinguisher, etc.–can last 30-50 minutes. Completing it before driving can feel like time could have been better spent on the road.
- They are inconvenient
A full vehicle inspection, especially that of a truck, means having to thoroughly inspect all important parts and equipment and documenting any issues with supporting information before submitting reports for corrective action. All these steps in documentation may feel like extra tasks to be completed in addition to the routine pre-trip inspection.
- They involve lots of paperwork
Pre-trip inspections mean paper checklists to fill out and other paperwork to complete and submit daily. The time and effort spent on documentation can be burdensome to truck drivers, not to mention the cost of constantly maintaining paper documentation, which accumulates in time, especially for larger fleets.
Why it’s Important
Pre-trip inspections allow fleet managers and drivers to identify issues with the vehicle. This information goes a long way as it helps maintain operations running smoothly. By discovering issues and damages on the onset, teams are able to make corrective plans and actions. Below are top 3 reasons why it’s vital to perform pre-trip inspections:
- Ensures Safety – Pre-trip inspections help eliminate the risk of accidents. Performing an inspection allows drivers to foresee potential dangers by examining whether vehicular components are in good condition.
- Ensures Compliance – Federal law requires drivers to conduct and record pre and post-trip inspection to verify that a vehicle is safe to operate and is free of defects. Regularly doing this saves you from costly fines resulting from violations. A business that’s compliant with local guidelines and regulations creates a good impression for potential customers.
- Ensures Long-term Business Continuity – Regularly keeping track of vehicle conditions helps businesses to remain open long term. As you proactively spot issues and stay on top of vehicle maintenance, the likelihood of operational downtime caused by breakdowns and violations are reduced or even eliminated. Accidents are also prevented from happening, which in turn reduces liabilities and costly repairs and compensation.
Pre-Trip Inspection Requirements
According to the Department of Transportation, a pre-trip inspection should be able to check off the following criteria before hitting the road:
- Determine that motor vehicle is in safe operating condition
- Review of previous inspection report
- Sign and acknowledge report and certify required repairs (if any)
If in any case the driver finds any issues during the inspection, a Driver Vehicle Inspection Report (DVIR) should be filed. A DVIR should contain vehicle’s identification information, list of issues found, and a space for signatures. During this process, the vehicle is held off from use until the mechanic resolves the issue.
What Should a Pre-trip Inspection Include?
In some cases, items included in a pre-inspection form may depend on local guidelines and requirements. But generally, a pre-trip inspection involves a thorough check of the vehicle’s major systems which are as follows:
- Fuel System
- Ignition System
- Electrical System
- Exhaust System
- Drive Train
- Suspension and Steering Systems
- Brake System
- Frame and Body
To help you get started, we’ve created this pre-trip inspection checklist template you can download for free and customize.
Digital Tool for Managing Truck Fleets
Fleet managers need to make sure that all vehicles in operation are safe to avoid accidents on the road and minimize disruption to the business. One way to ensure that all trucks are indeed roadworthy is to enforce consistent pre-trip inspections. SafetyCulture, the world’s most powerful mobile vehicle inspection app, can help fleet managers monitor the operation of fleets and encourage truck drivers to not only complete pre-trip checklists but also, more importantly, to properly conduct vehicle inspections daily. With SafetyCulture’s pre-trip app on mobile devices, you are empowered to:
- Schedule pre-trip inspections and be notified of missed/incomplete inspections.
- Use the mobile app to take photos and create annotations to better describe identified issues.
- Proactively address urgent issues and receive updates on assigned corrective actions.
- Save time and reduce costs by automatically generating paperless reports on the spot.
- Know how long pre-trip inspections are conducted using time stamps.
- Use geotagging to know where inspections are done.
- Have the option to activate automatic notifications if a vehicle is deemed unsafe.
- Use for free with small teams/fleets. Unlimited reports and storage for premium accounts.
Featured Pre-trip Inspection Checklists
Use this truck pre inspection checklist by Alberta Paving Ltd in performing pre and post trip inspections to ensure the vehicle’s stays in tip top condition. Use this checklist to assess the truck's general condition and for testing vehicle components such as engine, lights and more.
Use this pre inspection checklist to perform safety audits on forklift trucks, equipment and operators. Start by recording forklift general information like serial number, make, model, capacity, motive power and attachments. Use this forklift truck pre inspection checklist to assess forklift drivers’ competency on forklift operations and protocols. Perform thorough visual checks on vehicle parts and systems. Complete the audit by rating the overall performance “Safe or At Risk” and affix a digital signature to validate.