The Daily Vehicle Inspection Record (DVIR), typically known as a pre-trip inspection, is done each day that a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) is in use. The driver of that vehicle does this to ensure the safety of the truck before it hits the road.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) says it is against the law to operate a commercial motor vehicle if its safety is not certified. This safety certification of the CMV lies solely on the driver.
The Interstate Commerce Commission began requiring drivers to attest to the safety of their CMV starting in 1939. Decades later, it turned into the DVIR.
While a post-trip inspection is not required, the FMCSA says a pre-trip inspection is a must. The driver "must include all defects in the parts and accessories listed in that were discovered by or reported to the driver during that day."
Even if a driver uses more than one CMV per day, a DVIR must be done for each truck before the driver can put it on the road.
The FMCSA says the pre-trip inspections must include "defects and deficiencies" on the CMV in a number of categories which include:
- Service brakes, including trailer brake connections
- Parking (hand) brake
- Steering mechanism
- Lighting devices and reflectors
- Windshield wipers
- Rear-vision mirrors
- Coupling devices
- Wheels and rims
- Emergency equipment
If a driver finds any part of his or her vehicle to be deficient they are required to get it fixed before they can use the CMV. The original pre-trip inspection with the deficiency must be kept for three months and the corrective actions taken must be noted on the original DVIR.
Why are pre-trip inspections important?
Since a truck can be used by multiple different drivers in a company, you will want to make sure that there was not any unreported damage to the equipment from the last driver. Taking the time to walk around the truck and trailer to make sure everything is working and there are no defects can keep you out of a serious accident.
Trucks are complex machines designed to haul heavy loads over long distances. It's essential for the safety of the drivers in the truck and on the road to make sure things are in working order.
Who is responsible for defects found during pre-trip inspections?
It is the driver's responsibility to make sure that the vehicle they will be operating is in a safe working condition. If any defects are found they should be logged and addressed immediately.
The carrier is responsible for making sure that all defects are fixed and a log is kept indicating when the defect was found, who found the defects, who fixed them, and when they were fixed. These logs must be kept for 1 year in case of a DOT audit to show proof that pre-trip inspections were performed. Also, if a truck is sold by a carrier, they must keep 6 months of records from the time it was in their possession.
If defects are found or a known defect has not been fixed, the vehicle should not be used until it is back in safe working order. Carriers put their drivers, and others on the road, at significant risk by not maintaining their equipment and dispatching drivers to take loads. A coercion report can be filed with the FMCSA against carriers who try to convince drivers to perform certain acts that are in direct violation of the FMCSA regulations.
What are the consequences of not doing the DVIR?
One of the first things a DOT officer will ask during an inspections is request the pre-trip inspection on the vehicle. The FMCSA says that a driver who does not certify their DVIR can be put out of service or fined. Not having a pre-trip inspection is a moderately severe violation that carries a severity weight of 4 and if an out-of-service order is issued an additional 2 points is added.
DVIRs or pre-trip inspections fall under the FMCSA Vehicle Maintenance BASIC which is the most enforced BASIC and accounts for about 60% of all of the violations issued out of the FMCSA's 7 BASIC categories.
How long does it take to do a DVIR?
A pre-trip inspection will usually take about 15 - 30 minutes depending on your carrier requirements and other factors. This should be reflected in your hours-of-service logbook as "on duty not driving" time. If you do not have a period of time dedicated for a pre-trip inspection before you start driving this will throw red flags with the DOT.
Since the use of electronic logging devices that keep track of a driver's time, some areas of the daily vehicle inspection report get overlooked or shortcuts are made to reduce time on inspections. One area of the inspection that does not get performed is usually tire pressure monitoring. Many drivers use tire thumpers to hit the tire and listen to the sound to judge if the tire is properly inflated. Shortcuts like these can backfire in a level 1 DOT inspection that may results in fines and violations.