At the center of any long-term successful trucking operation is the pre-trip inspection report, right along with the post-trip report too. Any real professional is going to use a pre-trip inspection report, just as airline pilots use pre-flight inspection reports for one reason, lives directly depend on the equipment working. The best way to insure your equipment is working properly is to not overlook, forget, or neglect to inspect.
With busy schedules and loads requiring delivery, it would otherwise be easy to simply “do it next time,” or “do it at the first stop,” albeit that’s a recipe for disaster that will sooner or later bite you in the backside.
Add in the fact that drivers are required by law to inspect the truck and trailer they’re operating, and it becomes a no-brainer that the inspection gets done, and done well. While the equipment and driver’s age and experience will largely determine the length of time any given inspection will take, along with the time of day or night, I highly (fist pounding on the table here) recommend that you never rush, and take a full 40 to 50 minutes for your inspection. While it’s ok to get into a routine (hey, we all do with repetitive tasks), it’s never ok to use memory (for the same reason airline pilots of 25+ years continue to use a written checklist).
As an insurance agent, I can tell you that performing with full due diligence will save you money in the long-run, and that includes the time it takes to perform your pre-trip truck inspection. Every truck driver worth their salt will tell you that insurance is one of the most expensive cost components of operating the big rig on the road, so keeping your out of service for your truck is key to keeping your trucking insurance rates low, or at least as low as you can.
Some helpful and often overlooked areas that you want to keep an eye on include:
DOT inspectors will look inside the truck’s cab area to see how the driver maintains their working area. First impressions are huge and if the inspector sees garbage from the last greasy burger joint you ate at from two days ago along with other “stuff” laying on the floor, it’s going to be natural for the inspector to have a first impression that this driver doesn’t take a lot of time or effort to make sure his work area is clean and up to the highest standards.
It’s easy to see how the inspector will make the leap into also thinking that maybe safety isn’t all that important neither. Don’t be surprised if the inspector makes the point to really scrutinize your semi-truck with greater focus if the first thing they find is a messy cab.
Ok, so it may not be the easiest and funnest part of your job as a truck driver, albeit we can all agree that bad things happen if the breaks aren’t working once you’re on the road. It’s much better to get a delayed start to your trip than to get delayed in the middle of it. So yes, take the time to check the inside and outside of the bac and look under the trailer (if appropriate) because if we’re going to rank safety equipment, it’s hard not to select a truck’s breaks as the number one piece of “it can never fail” equipment and components.
About 6 of the top 20 most frequent violations inspectors find when performing official inspections involve a truck’s breaking system. Not a big surprise given the importance along with the amount of wear and tear a typical truck’s breaks receive on any given trip.
Did you know that a simple seatbelt violation can raise your insurance rates by hundreds of dollars? Multiple seatbelt violations (YES INCLUDING WHILE DRIVING YOUR CAR) can raise your insurance rates so much that it can drive you (cheesy pun I know) right out of the trucking industry. Why? because they’re considered safety violations.
For a Pre-Trip Inspection Checklist click the link –> Truck-Trip-Inspection-Checklist-1-Reason-Insurance