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Safety First: Discussing the Importance of Pre-Trip Inspections

by Charlotte Freed | May 30, 2019

Centerline's quarterly safety articleCenterline is committed to helping fleet managers and transportation professionals learn how to handle some of the industry’s most pressing safety issues and concerns. In this article, Jim Ledbetter, Centerline’s Safety and Operations Manager, discusses the importance of pre-trip inspections, and why fleets should stress this importance to their drivers.

Why are Inspections so Important?

Pre-Trip inspections are a mandatory task in a driver’s daily routine. This mandated 15 minute procedure can keep a driver and vehicle in service and on the road. While mandated, fleets often fail to stress the importance of the procedure, causing drivers to miss important maintenance issues that can lead to issues on the road.

Most of these issues are preventable, especially when performing some of the simplest steps of a pre-trip inspection, like completing and reviewing the Drive-Vehicle Inspection Report (DVIR). The DVIR should be filled out by drivers as soon as trips are completed. More importantly, DVIRs should be reviewed by fleet supervisors so they are aware of any problems with tractors and trailers. Using this information, fleet supervisors can pull tractors and trailers out of service for maintenance, helping equipment and drivers stay compliant.

Aside from reviewing the DVIR, fleet supervisors should ensure drivers are completing walk-arounds. The walk-around helps drivers identify problems often caught during roadside inspections: faulty headlamps, broken windshields, indicators, etc. By ensuring drivers are completing their walk-arounds, fleet supervisors can mitigate many issues before trucks even depart from the yard.

Bottom line, inspections help reduce liabilities on the road. They prevent down time, missed dispatches, disruptions in the supply chain, and reduce the chance for a truck or trailer being placed out of service. More importantly, they ensure the safety of the public.

Why aren’t Inspections Happening?

Pre-trip inspections should take between 15 and 30 minutes; however, they are not completed 100% of the time. There are two reasons drivers fail to complete a pre- or post-trip inspection:

  1. They don’t remember all of the steps they were taught in driving school, and therefore do not complete the inspection in a thorough manner.
  2. Drivers do not take ownership in the equipment they are operating, and therefore do not complete the inspection in a thorough manner.

Both of these reasons result in drivers failing to identify easy fixes or major problems with equipment, putting other drivers in danger.

How can we Help Drivers?

Below you’ll find tips that you can implement today to ensure inspections are being completed and logged accurately.

  1. Get Involved: Let drivers know inspections are important to you by completing an inspection yourself. Review the DVIR and talk to the driver about any important notes he or she provided. This will let the driver know you are invested and that you appreciate the time they took to complete this mandated task.
  2. Get Crafty: Place post it notes on a brake line or an airline that ask the driver to come see you. If they come in with the note, you know they were performing parts of the inspection. If the driver fails to come and see you, you can approach the driver and discuss the importance of completing these inspections. You can take this idea a step further and reward drivers with extra safety points.
  3. Get Training:Different fleets operate different types of equipment. This means drivers may not be trained to use the equipment in your fleet. Ongoing training or new hire training can help drivers learn what to look for and help make inspections more effective.

If you are in need of help training drivers on pre- and post-trip inspections, reach out to your Centerline representative. Together we will develop a comprehensive plan that ensure the safety of your drivers and your fleet.

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