A thorough pre-trip inspection should take between 30 and 45 minutes to perform.
Every year it is reported that around 25 to 30% of the maintenance-related CSA violations are due to inoperative or defective lighting.
Why does this continue to happen?
The simple answer is:
- drivers are not given enough time necessary to run a thorough pre-trip or post-trip inspection, or
- drivers are not being trained to understand the importance of the daily inspections.
The reality is, teaching a driver how to do a pre-trip and post-trip inspection is as important as teaching them how to drive the truck.
The Importance of Pre and Post Trip Inspections
Some of the easiest things to catch during a pre-trip inspection are also the most common violations written up on a roadside inspection.
For example, low tread depth and damaged sidewalls are easily visible and usually do not wear out on one trip.
According to the DOT, in 2015 63% of roadside inspections were triggered by a commercial motor vehicle being driven with an observable defect, including:
- inoperable lights
- deflated tires
- cargo securement
- missing placards, and
- fluid leaks
All of the above can be caught without sliding under the truck.
In fact, the most common method roadside inspectors use to select a vehicle for inspection is whether or not there is a visual defect.
Drivers just need to be educated on what they are looking for and what the DOT is looking for when they are going to write up a violation.
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Preventing Vehicle Maintenance and Violation Costs
It is no secret that vehicle maintenance is near the top of any fleet expenses, with companies reporting average repair and maintenance costs of 16.7 cents per mile, according to the ATRI in 2019.
A minor problem caught during a pre-trip or post-trip inspection will likely cost less money to fix and should get you back on the road quicker instead of waiting around for a major issue to be fixed.
Also, it is better to catch an issue before hitting the road as roadside repairs generally cost three to five times more than repairs in the shop or the extra cost of towing the truck to a shop.
According to FMCSA annual violation data, fleets regulated by the DOT have paid over $27 million annually in fines, which breaks down to an average of $5,074 per case for violations. With HAZMAT, this average nearly doubles.
Many of these violations will also place the truck out-of-service until the issues are fixed. Being placed out-of-service for 10 hours while a maintenance shop is fixing the truck can cost a fleet around $900 more.
Accident costs take more time recover from
When it comes to accidents preventable by pre or post-trip inspections, hidden costs of an accident can be 4 to 10 times greater than the visible costs.
- cargo damage
- vehicle damage
- personal injury costs
- medical costs
- loss of revenue
- increased insurance premiums and deductibles
- towing costs
- storage of the damaged vehicle
- lost customers
- lost sales
- lost productivity
- cost to hire or train replacement workers
- loss of, or damage to, third-party property
- vehicle replacement
- damaged equipment downtime
- accelerated depreciation of equipment
- tarnished public perception
- charges from government agencies to replace or repair property
- and more
The FMCSA found that the average cost of a truck crash involving a tractor-trailer pulling one trailer was $172,000, and for two or three trailers, the costs amount to over $500,000.
To recover the cost of a single accident, a company would need to generate over $7,000,000 of additional revenue to pay the costs of the accident, assuming an average profit margin of 2%.
All fleets need to conduct proper and thorough pre and post trip inspections, which consists of implementing quality:
- driver training that is ongoing and consistent
- driver education, and
- driver awareness of current and changing traffic laws
All of this will help prevent being targeted by the DOT at roadside inspections and is a valuable resource to ensure a healthy fleet, and compliant safety practices.