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There are many reasons pre-trip inspections are a must for 18-wheelers. First of all, it’s the law. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) states that the inspection must occur before each haul in the presence of a company representative or driver. Pre-trip evaluations keep people safe, track patterns over time, and protect your company. Fleet managers have endless responsibilities, and staying at the top of the pre-trip inspections may seem like a meaningless hassle, but those big trucks can do a lot of damage so better safe than….

When injured in a crash with a commercial vehicle, you need a New Orleans truck accident lawyer who knows what you are going through. Failure to complete an inspection or overlooking some steps may result in legal violations and compliance, safety, and accountability (CSA) violations. The Department of Transportation (DOT) may visit the truck company and flag the truck. The driver’s truck may also become involved in fatal vehicle or engine damage accidents.

What Is a Pre-trip Truck Inspection and What Should It Include?

The law requires truck drivers to complete a CDL test pre-trip inspection at least every 24 hours. A thorough assessment takes approximately half an hour but will ensure you do not miss any law violations or crucial repairs. However, some organizations may have additional requirements on their checklist. Here’s a breakdown of everyday items that should be assessed daily.

  • Engine compartment – Check for fraying, cracking, or wear. Inspect for fluid running down the engine side and leaks, as well as signs of wear and proper tension on the fan belts. 
  • Fuel tank and battery – The battery and fuel tanks should not leak.
  • Fluids – Maintaining recommended fluid levels prevents surprise damage. Check all caps, the dipstick, the power steering fluid, and the oil pressure gauge. These should not be loose or cracked. A thorough assessment of all connections under the truck’s hood, hoses, and engine block will also help identify potential leaks, tears, and cracks. Complete any necessary repairs before the trip. 
  • Brakes – Brake chambers should be void of grease and out of round. 
  • Tires – Tires should have decent tread and be properly inflated. It’s best if you replace all tires with flat spots.  
  • Tug test – The tug test ensures you won’t drop the trailer on the ground. The front passenger section of the front of the truck should rest on the frame and not be hooked on the fifth wheel. 
  • Coupling system – Check the landing gear, the fifth wheel, pigtails and airlines, headlights, and four ways. Correct any issues before departure. 
  • Lights and reflectors – All lights should work optimally, including emergency lights. Ensure reflective strips and reflectors do not have any broken, dried, or missing pieces. 
  • Trailer – Inspect the license plate, DOT bumper, seal, lights, door latches, and doors. All these should be in the proper condition. 
  • Cabin When in the cabin, the seatbelt, heat and A/C, windshield wipers, mirrors, and gauges should function normally. 
  • Emergency kit – All trucks should have safety equipment on board, especially if you are not the only driver who works with this truck. 

Why Perform a Pre-trip Inspection on an 18-wheeler?


Pre-trip inspections keep motorists and truckers safe. A minor truck issue may cause a fatal accident that could kill or injure the driver. Drivers are the backbone of your company. It is essential to help them understand that pre-trip inspections ensure their safety. Driving a truck is one of the deadliest jobs in the United States, with approximately 800 truckers dying annually.

Maintenance issues are one of the leading causes of trucking accidents. Dudley DeBosier Injury Lawyers will help you get the compensation you deserve if you are injured in an accident. Our truck accident lawyers in New Orleans deal with various cases, including car, truck, and motorcycle accidents, medical malpractice, workplace injury, and defective drugs. Another leading cause of trucking lawsuits is failing to complete a pre-trip evaluation in compliance with the law. Complete the pre-trip inspection to prevent severe problems.

Compliance with the Law

A driver-vehicle inspection report (DVIR) is more than a burden on employers and employees. Federal law requires it. The FMCSA requires this inspection before each haul. The law provides that companies should have a checklist that ensures a thorough review of all vehicle parts. The company or driver must verify the check occurred and that all aspects of the truck are in good working condition.

Failure to comply with the law subjects a company to severe fines; in some cases, they risk losing certifications and licenses. This may cost you your job and impose additional costs on the organization.

It Tracks Patterns Over Time

Does it feel as if you are constantly replacing tires, or is your truck always faulty? Pre-trip inspections help you track trends over time and can help you determine whether there’s an issue with the driver, a mechanic, a truck, or something else. Identifying these patterns helps you address them before they spiral out of control, saving you money and saving lives.

Liability — It Protects Your Company

Sooner or later, an injury or accident may occur. How will you prove your company was committed to safety? You will need information about the vehicle’s history. The pre-trip inspections show that the trucks were inspected correctly and timely in compliance with the law. Your company will look negligent without these reports, lthe absence of which can be used against you by truck accident lawyers in the court of public opinion.

Don’t Be Complacent About Pre-trip Inspections

A pre-trip inspection is an integral part of the truck industry. People may get complacent or forget. Observe your drivers as they perform assessments and provide the necessary guidance based on what you observe. Address any identified issues or damages immediately.

After meeting with Dudley DeBosier’s full-service truck accident lawyer New Orleans residents can rest easy. Every prospective plaintiff gets a free case assessment. We love to help people protect their future and get what they deserve. Consider contacting truck accident lawyers to ensure you’re doing everything possible to comply with the law and reach an equitable settlement if involved in an accident.

Reviewed by Chad Lederman at the New Orleans Dudley DeBosier office.

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