DVIRs Help Improve Safety and Avoid Unscheduled Repairs

A truck driver does an inspection on his truck and fills out his DVIR.

Daily pre- and post-trip inspections of tractors and trailers are legally required by the Department of Transportation and are a best practice to improve safety and reduce downtime. Drivers identify and report any defects or issues with the vehicle that could affect its safety or performance via Driver Vehicle Inspection Reports (DVIRs).

“If a driver finds something in the pre- or post-trip, they shouldn’t delay getting it fixed or repaired,” said Chris Hough, vice president of maintenance services at Penske Truck Leasing.

Items related to safety, such as issues with tires, brakes or lights, need to be taken care of immediately, but some things may be able to wait until a more convenient time. “If it is a torn seat cushion, they can maybe ride that to the next PM, but the safety side has to be addressed as it happens,” Hough said.

The key is sharing the information quickly with management or maintenance personnel so they can determine how to address needed repairs.

Hough said drivers and carriers can share information with Penske’s shops in several ways. Drivers can submit paper DVIRs or electronic versions. “We have customers who use electronic DVIRs, and we partner with their telematics providers to get those,” he said, adding that Penske can also provide feedback electronically.

Drivers can also share information via tablets within Penske’s shops. “When they come into our shop, if they have an issue, they can write it up electronically. We have podiums with iPads that automatically feed into our system of record to get the repair order,” Hough explained.

Thorough Inspections

Hough said drivers must do a comprehensive pre- and post-trip inspection to help avoid over-the-road failures. “A lot of issues could be taken care of upfront if proper pre- and post-trips are done consistently,” he said.

Best practices include:

  • Walking around the tractor and visually inspecting the exterior components. Drivers should pay extra attention to tires, wheels, lights, mirrors, wipers and any visible signs of damage or wear
  • Opening the hood and checking the engine oil level, coolant level and power steering fluid levels. Other fluids to check include transmission, brake and windshield washer fluids
  • Inspecting the belts, hoses and wiring for any signs of damage or loose connections.
  • Verifying that the battery is securely mounted and terminals are clean
  • Checking the brake shoes/pads, brake lines and hydraulic brake fluid levels when applicable
  • Inspecting the tire tread depth, sidewalls and overall condition and ensuring proper inflation using a tire pressure gauge

Regular PM Services

A robust preventive maintenance program can help reduce the number of items drivers find. “There are so many aspects of the pre-trip inspection that are related to frequent and properly done PMs,” Hough said. “With our voice-activated PM system, our technicians can’t take shortcuts and they inspect every single item.”