Planning and preparation are an important part of any trip. This is especially the case for OTR drivers carrying heavy and sometimes hazardous materials.
In addition to avoiding problems down the road, pre-trip checklists give drivers a systematic method to ensure their truck and all its connected systems are ready for a long haul. This doesn’t include the fact that federal safety regulations in the United States require each driver to verify the truck is in good working order prior to commandeering it.
At Dynamic Transit, we’re focused on safety, efficiency and making sure our drivers are the most professional on the road. That’s why we’ve developed a thorough pre- and post-trip checklist that enables our drivers to keep themselves – and others – safe no matter where they’re going.
When drivers don’t perform a proper inspection, they may be hit with Compliance, Safety and Accountability (CSA) violations, cause damage to the truck’s engine or be involved in an avoidable accident. Plus, problems not addressed through the process may fall to the next person driving the truck. That’s not fair to either party.
Down to the Details
Dynamic’s detailed pre-trip checklist contains specific categories with items to check within them. For example, after a driver approaches the vehicle to examine it for puddle, leans and missing parts, he or she should check the cab to ensure the permit book and documents are located in the appropriate place and that the lights are on.
The next step involves opening the hood and verifying that the following items are in good condition: hoses, belts oil, power steering reservoir, coolant holder, windshield washer fluid and steering components. Once that’s complete, the driver should confirm that all brake pads are in place and that there is no rotor damage.
From here, the checklist moves to the pressure and condition of the tires on the truck and trailer, including the frames, rims and mirrors on both the driver and passenger sides. The steer tire should be examined along with the depth of the tread on each tire.
Even the parking and ID lights, reflectors and turn signal should be studied to make sure they’re working properly. These things may not seem as critical as brakes and tires, but they can cause accidents if they fail to function as designed.
Next comes the exhaust system. Drivers are expected to assess the condition of the muffler and ensure it’s connected securely. While doing this, it’s a good idea to check the grab handle, steps and catwalk to see if they’re free of debris and appropriately attached. If they are, move on to the frame to verify it’s not bent, cracked, damaged or missing any parts.
After confirming the APU switch is in the on position and the fuel cap has its rubber seal in place without any damage, it’s time to investigate the suspension. This includes U-bolts, spring pins and brackets, torque arms and airbags. Observe whether all these parts are in place and functioning correctly.
Other areas to examine during a pre-trip checklist are the coupling and exhaust systems, side box, air brake tanks and any remaining lights and mirrors. For the trailer and reefer unit, items on the checklist are comprised of the landing gear or dollies, tire pressure and conditions, the air slider and dump valve, doors and hinges and the overall frame. As with the truck, the document box should be in place and easy to access.
Though we’ve covered a lot of areas in this pre-trip checklist overview, it doesn’t contain each and every step necessary. Different companies have their own such document. If done properly, however, completing this checklist should take approximately 20 minutes.
Drivers should also perform a post-trip inspection. It contains many of the same steps and lets the next driving professional know the truck he or she is handling is properly prepared for the next voyage.