Most impactful part of a trucker’s day is often overlooked

Trucker inspecting tire of a truck

A thorough pre-trip trucking inspection at the start of every shift is a mandatory and important part of operating a commercial vehicle. However, many truck drivers are failing to give it the time and attention it deserves.

In a Canadian commercial vehicle blitz conducted by the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance in May 2023, more than 20% of the vehicles inspected were placed out of service. The top violations were:

  • Brake systems (23.5%)
  • Defective service brakes (15.3%)
  • Lights (13.7%)
  • Cargo securement (13.6%)
  • Tires (11.3%)

In addition to potentially being put out of service in an inspection, improper pre-trip inspections may also result in delays due to breakdowns, collisions, criminal charges and even losses of life.

The failure of truck drivers to conduct proper pre-trip inspections − and carriers to provide their drivers ample time and incentive to do them − is industry-wide. As insurance professionals, we have access to the government-provided carrier profiles that include violations. It is clear that these violations almost always could have been prevented by pre-trip inspections.

Multiple violations like these will affect a carriers’ overall safety score, insurer eligibility and possibly their defensibility if the results of a collision are prosecuted in a court of law.

Why don’t truck drivers do pre-trip inspections?

A thorough pre-trip inspection should take 45 minutes to 1 hour. Among the many reasons a driver may skip or rush through them are:

  • Truck drivers aren’t paid for the time to inspect
  • The weather is wet or cold and drivers may not want to take the time to visually inspect all areas
  • Drivers are rushed to get to their next destination
  • Drivers may not have the skills, training or knowledge to perform a thorough inspection

What does a pre-trip driving inspection entail?

Schedule 13 of the National Safety Code regulates the requirements for each type of vehicle and provides a detailed list of items that must be checked. It’s the driver’s responsibility to thoroughly go through the pre-trip steps assigned to their type of vehicle before they begin their shift.

Truck drivers must also fill out a Daily Vehicle Inspection Report (DVIR). With Canada's new electronic logging device (ELD) regulations, drivers may be required to confirm this report digitally within a ELD system. By signing it, the driver attests that the vehicle is in good operating condition. A driver must be able to produce a copy to commercial enforcement when asked. 

How can carriers ensure proper pre-trip driving inspections are carried out by each truck driver?

Even the best freight companies with above-standard maintenance programs are susceptible to trucking violations when mechanical items fail. In order to make sure pre-trip trucking inspections are happening regularly here are some tips:

  1. Provide annual pre-trip inspection training for all drivers, not just new hires or newer drivers to the industry. Veteran drivers develop bad habits and should also be provided consistent training. 

  2. Ensure a comprehensive pre-trip inspection is part of the initial road evaluation during the hiring stage and have the driver perform a proper airbrake pre-trip inspection (out-of-service air brakes is a common violation). This should be part of the pre-employment road test for new company drivers.

  3. Initiate a pre-trip inspection incentive program. Not all incentives have to be monetary. Consider naming a driver of the month, recognition pins, etc. Developing a program entices other truckers to be a part of it. 

  4. If you don’t already have one, develop a driver handbook. This should include trucking policies and procedures which clearly outline drivers’ responsibilities with respect to pre-trip inspections. It should also comprise the consequences for not correctly conducting their duties. 

  5. Make pre-trip trucking inspections part of every driver’s shift. This means paying them for the full 45 minutes to 1 hour that it takes to make sure their truck is safe to drive on the road.
  6. For more information about pre-trip inspections, please reach out to Aviva’s Commercial Fleet Specialists. We’re here to help.

: − Canadian Roadcheck inspections ground one in five vehicles

Canadian Council of Motor Transport Administrators – NSC Daily Vehicle Trip Inspection

The content in this article is for information purposes only and is not intended to be relied upon as professional or expert advice.

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