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What purpose do truckers’ pre-trip inspections serve?

If you work for a trucking company or know someone who does, then you might be aware of the many pre-trip requirements that tractor-trailer operators must meet. One of them is to abstain from alcohol and get a certain number of hours of rest before they get behind the wheel of their truck. Another responsibility that truckers have is performing a pre-trip inspection.

Federal transportation officials mandate this for public safety reasons. However, many truckers don’t perform this inspection or at least they don’t check everything that they’re supposed to.

What components must truckers check during a pre-trip inspection?

Truckers must check the following truck systems or parts when performing a U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) pre-trip inspection:

  • Fluid levels
  • Tire pressure
  • Shocks
  • Gauges
  • Ball joints
  • Kingpins

Federal regulators note that such an inspection can take as long as 30 to 50 minutes to perform and that they should include it in their logbook once they’ve completed it. The DOT requires truckers to complete this inspection before initiating their trip, and every 24-hours they remain on the road.

Regulatory officials or law enforcement officers may audit a trucker’s logbook at any point to ensure that they’ve been receiving adequate rest and performing their inspections. Truckers may face penalties, including having a truck rendered “out of order,” fines or commercial driver’s license suspension if they neglect to perform or log an inspection.

Why should a trucker’s inspection matter to you as a motorist?

As referenced earlier, the main reason the DOT imposed these inspections is in the interest of public safety. If truckers check out these important truck components, then they’ll notice if they’re in disrepair before they take to the roads and potentially hurt someone.

This is often why one of the first things you’ll want to do after having a truck-involved accident is to request that the trucker preserves any potential evidence. You might be able to use their logging of inspections (or lack thereof) against a driver and/or their employer pursuing a case against them.

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