vehicle inspection checklist must be followed and completed every day before a driver can legally operate his truck. It involves an exterior inspection of the engine compartment, lighting, tailpipe, brakes and tires followed by an interior inspection. This checklist is also known as a DOT CDL Pre-trip inspection checklist and is commonly referred to as a pre-trip inspection.

Here are the areas of the truck that need to be examined when following the vehicle inspection checklist

  • The left side of the power unit or tractor.
  • The left side and the front of the trailer.
  • The rear and the right side of the vehicle.
  • The front of the tractor.
  • Inside the cab.

The driver will need to walk around his truck and look at all of the items on the vehicle inspection checklist. He will have to make sure that certain mechanical things are working by performing a test on them. As an example, the lights will have to be turned on to make sure that the headlamps are in working order.

This vehicle inspection checklist is performed on the larger parts of the vehicle as well as on small intricate items. The tires, for instance need to be inspected for wear and tear and the lug nuts need to be checked to make sure that they are all there and secured tightly.

Inside the cab, the vehicle inspection checklist will require testing of the horn, clutch pedal, signal indicators, brakes and steering. The mirrors, lights, oil pressure, air pressure and water temperature will also have to be examined to make sure that they are able to provide their intended functions.

This checklist was designed to cover all of the major safety issues that could possibly lead to a dangerous situation while driving. By completing the list, drivers will have a much better chance of reaching their destination safely without an incident.

The vehicle inspection checklist becomes second nature after it has been done for a few weeks. It may seem daunting at first to look through the checklist and see all the items that need to be examined, but once you have the hang of it you’ll find that it doesn’t really take long at all. It does need to be done correctly, however, since your safety and the safety of others on the road depends on it. Instructions on how to perform the vehicle inspection is included in all cdl truck driver training programs.

CDL Pre-Trip Inspection on a Tractor-Trailer Truck

CDL Pre-Trip Inspection

The CDL pre-trip inspection saves lives

CDL Pre-Trip Inspection (DOT pre-trip inspection) is where the driver of a tractor-trailer truck walks around the truck inspecting certain mechanical components on the truck and its trailer to ensure that they are in good working condition and that the vehicle can be driven safely. The driver walks around the vehicle inspecting the external and internal (under the hood) mechanical components of the truck and trailer. As the driver checks certain components, he or she checks it off on a checklist. The intended purpose of requiring a Pre-Trip Inspection is to avoid and eliminate accidents that cause injuries and death due to a defective mechanical component.

 The basics of a pre-trip inspection

Once the driver has completed the visual and physical Pre-Trip inspection on the exterior of the tractor trailer truckthey climb inside the cab of the truck and continue the Pre-Trip Inspection process by checking items such as the seat, seat belt, windshield, correct mirror adjustment, and other safety related items. The driver starts the truck and continues to check items such as the brakes, (air brakes), lighting system, turn signals, windshield wipers, horn, gauges, and other items crucial to the mechanical integrity of the truck. The CDL Pre-Trip Inspection is part of the CDL Driving Skills Test. This is a short list of the mechanical components checked for illustration purposes. The actual CDL Pre-Trip Inspection list will include many more components that are listed in a particular order.

The pre-trip inspection checklist is required.

When the driver performs the CDL Pre-Trip Inspection an industry standard checklist is used that is in compliance with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration,  a division the US Department of Transportation (DOT) and the local State Department of Transportation. The designated items are on a standard checklist and checked off during the inspection. The driver signs off on the checklist confirming the truck and the trailer are in good mechanical condition and are safe to be driven. During the CDL Pre-Trip Inspection, if the driver finds a defective or faulty component, it is documented and the proper procedure(s) is performed to correct the defect.

The driver is required to report the incident to their employers dispatch department to determine what action(s) is to be taken, if any. The driver does not have the authority to operate the vehicle, but can deem the vehicle inoperable upon discovery of any defective item. The dispatch department will tell the driver what action(s) to take. If the defect is minor, many times the driver is instructed to continue to drive the truck or go directly to the nearest repair facility. If the defect is a major mechanical problem or a safety hazard, the vehicle must be repaired and have supporting documentation showing the repair was made and that the vehicle is now safe to drive.

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