Pre-Trip Inspection Before Every Trip

The pre-trip inspection required by the DOT, can be broken down into 3 pieces. Title 49 CFR§ 396.13 is the basis for a driver inspection. This title states that

Before driving a motor vehicle, the driver shall
  1. Be satisfied that the motor vehicle is in safe operating condition:
  2. Review the last drivers vehicle inspection report; and
  3. Sign the report, only if defects or deficiencies were notes by the driver who prepared the report, to acknowledge that the driver has reviewed it and that there is a certification that the required repairs have been performed. The signature requirement does not apply to listed defects on a towed unit which is no longer part of the vehicle combination.

    Each of these pieces are easier to digest if examine them one at a time.

    Be satisfied that the motor vehicle is in safe operating condition

    The driver must be satisfied that the motor vehicle is in safe operating condition. Sounds easy enough. What constitutes a vehicle in safe operating condition. Looks like it's back to Title 49 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR).

    Title 49 CRF CFR§ 392.7- parts and accessories, CFR§ 392.8- emergency equipment,and CFR§ 392.9- cargo containment

    CFR§ 392.7

    No commercial motor vehicle shall be driven unless the driver is satisfied that the following parts and accessories are in good working order, nor shall any driver fail to use or make use of such parts and accessories when and as needed:
    • Service brakes, including trailer brake connections
    • Parking (hand) brake
    • Steering mechanism
    • Lighting devices and reflectors
    • Tires- § 397.17>-A driver must examine each tire on a motor vehicle at the beginning of each trip and each time the vehicle is parked.
    • Horn
    • Windshield wiper or wipers
    • Rear-vision mirror or mirrors
    • Coupling devices

    CFR§ 392.8-emergency equipment

    No commercial motor vehicle shall be driven unless the driver thereof is satisfied that the emergency equipment required by § 393.95 of this subchapter is in place and ready for use; nor shall any driver fail to use or make use of such equipment when and as needed.

    CFR§ 392.9-inspection of cargo, cargo securement devices and systems

    (a) General. A driver may not operate a commercial motor vehicle and a motor carrier may not require or permit a driver to operate a commercial motor vehicle unless-->CFR§ 392.9

    Review the last drivers vehicle inspection report

    The driver vehicle inspection report or DVIR is a post-trip inspection. This inspection is also mandated by the Code of Federal Regulations. You can read more about post-trip inspections by clicking on the DVIR link.

    All the driver needs to do to satisfy this section is to read and understand the previous days DVIR.

    Sign the Previous Day's DVIR Report

    Signing the previous day's DVIR report sounds simple enough. However, often the driver does not sign the previous day's DVIR.

    When to sign the report:

    1. the driver has reviewed the DVIR, and
    2. there is a required repair to one or both of the present units currently coupled, and
    3. the required repair has been completed

    Do NOT sign the DVIR when:

    • there is no required repair to be performed, or
    • the required repair is on a vehicle that is not currently part of the vehicle combination

    Need More Information?

    The state level is a good source for information regarding a pre-trip inspection. If you know your states web address, you can often find on-line booklets. These booklets have a pre-trip inspection often in easy to follow outline form.

    Another good source of all types of CDL manuals is CDL Digest. Here you can find links directly to each states CDL manual. They also have great information on just about everything CDL related.

    If you are having difficulties with one or more driver's performing a pre-trip inspection, you may want to become very familiar with CFR§ 383.111-required knowledge. This section in the CFR specifically addresses the required knowledge and specific duties of a driver including:

    • (e) Vehicle inspections: The objectives and proper procedures for performing vehicle safety inspections, as follows:
      1. The importance of periodic inspection and repair to vehicle safety
      2. The effect of undiscovered malfunctions upon safety
      3. What safety-related parts to look for when inspecting vehicles
      4. Pre-trip/enroute/post-trip inspection procedures
      5. Reporting findings.

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