A Guide to Tractor-Trailer Inspections

Truck drivers are taught to make a detailed inspection of their rigs before, during, and after hauls. The required checkups are based on federal regulations and are made to ensure vehicle reliability, load security, and driver safety. As your CDL exam approaches, learn more about what these inspections entail, so you’ll be prepared for the road ahead. 

What Happens During a Pre-Trip Truck Safety Inspection?

Under Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) guidelines, commercial vehicle operators must inspect these 11 items:

  • Both horns
  • Coupling devices
  • Emergency equipment
  • Hand brake
  • Lights, signals, and reflectors
  • Service brake and trailer brake connections
  • Rear-vision mirrors
  • Steering mechanism
  • Tires
  • Wheels and rims
  • Windshield

Pre-trip inspections don’t need to be reported unless repairs are needed. Management will provide a document to record the damage and the steps taken to resolve the issue. By creating a report, both the trucker and their carrier can prevent accidents and potential liability. 

What Happens During an En-Route Inspection? 

General Inspection

Truck Driver

During non-driving on-duty breaks, truck drivers should inspect the rig’s current status. The running lights and four-way flashers should be operational. Check the tires and hubs, which shouldn’t be running hot, and there shouldn’t be any leaks. Be sure to make notes in your logbook whenever you’re finished with your en-route inspections. While the FMCSA doesn’t require them, most carriers do. 

Cargo Securement

According to FMCSA regulations, truck drivers must check the cargo’s securement after the first 50 miles of the haul. After that, they’ll need to confirm the cargo is still secure every three hours or 150 miles, whichever is first. Team drivers can inspect the load at these times, as well, or when changing duty.

However, if the materials are sealed or the cargo isn’t reachable, the driver isn’t required to make cargo securement checks. 

Hazardous Materials

There are different en-route inspection procedures for truckers transporting hazardous materials. Inspect the tires before, during, and after transport. If a tire is low or flat, they should detour to the nearest repair shop. Tires are also likely to overheat, especially during the summer. If that’s the case, notify the dispatcher and wait until the tires cool off. 

What Happens During a Post-Trip Truck Safety Inspection?

At the end of their shift, drivers should take a final pass at the rig. Only submit a daily vehicle inspection report (DVIR) to your carrier if you find truck or cargo defects while en-route. The carrier must determine if the flaws need to be repaired before you continue on the haul. However, with consistent pre-trip and en-route inspections, you’ll rarely have to submit a DVIR. 

The trucking industry focuses on reliability, timeliness, and safety. Students atHamrick School in Medina, OH, have exemplified these qualities for over 40 years. This truck driver school provides comprehensive training to ensure enrollees are of the highest caliber in the business. Once you graduate, their job placement program will help match you with your first carrier. For more information on their CARES Act financial aid grant, visit their website or call them at (330) 239-2229.

  • OH Reg. #2057
  • ODPS License #1439-2369