Companies that own and operate vehicles with gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of less than 26,001 pounds can hire non-CDL drivers to drive them. A CDL or Commercial Driver’s License is required for drivers who are operating commercial vehicles over 26,001 pounds GVWR.
Even if your drivers are operating light-duty vehicles, they are still exposed to accidents and safety risks on the road. Several factors including pedestrians, other drivers and vehicles, weather, and road conditions. All these factors play a part in creating situations that can lead to accidents and injuries that are sometimes fatal. In 2019, 118,000 trucks were involved in crashes resulting in an injury, and equipment failure is one of the major causes of the incidents.
Aside from the risk of unpleasant incidents on the road, your non-CDL drivers are also facing another risk. It is the risk of breakdowns which create unnecessary delays, lost business opportunities, and other unwanted costs. Some companies employ fleet vehicle maintenance services to avoid this problem.
As an operator of a fleet of commercial vehicles, you must develop and establish a standard procedure to prevent these identified risks. One of the most effective ways to ensure a safe and well-monitored fleet is to develop and implement a vehicle pre-trip inspection procedure your drivers must perform before each driving job.
These are the basic procedures your drivers should follow to avoid major vehicle breakdowns:
1. Walk around the vehicle to inspect it to ensure that:
- The engine is free from fluid leaks
- The tires are not worn out and are properly inflated
- The mirrors and light covers are not broken
2. Check the Engine
Your truck’s engine plays a major role in keeping your operation smooth, efficient and safe. Before any driving day, you should check fluids such as the engine oil, washer fluid, engine coolant, and brake fluid. Have the hoses checked for leaks or cracks, and the drive belts for wear and tear on a regular basis.
3. Inspect the vehicle’s interior
There are items in your commercial vehicle’s interior that you need to check to ensure a safe trip. These are the truck’s safety equipment such as seatbelts, etc. and debris or trash that can distract or obstruct the driver while he is operating the vehicle.
4. Start the Engine
After each visual inspection, your drivers should start the engine and observe the dashboard for warning lights that indicate engine issues such as a charging system failure. The truck’s system can detect certain problems.
After inspecting the dashboard, your driver must test all the lights to see if they are working. Start by turning on the headlights then the four way flashers, and lastly the clearance/ marker lights. Once this test is over, check that the windshield wipers and A/C and heat operate normally depending on the season. Don’t forget to check the morrors for a clear view of what’s behind the truck.
It would be appropriate to be sure that your non-CDL drivers have the right mindset and attitude to comply with your newly established policies by having a formal discussion with them. Some drivers may not have a positive attitude towards your new work instructions for the simple reason that “they were not hired as mechanics or vehicle techs.”
To resolve this issue, the first thing you need to do is make your drivers understand two things:
- The policy is intended to ensure road and vehicle safety which is everybody’s concern and responsibility.
- Every driver is responsible for making sure that the vehicle they’re about to operate doesn’t have any mechanical, safety, or other issues. Drivers are therefore responsible for inspecting their vehicles before the start or at the end of any driving day to ensure that any and all issues are reported.
The implementation stage could be challenging, as some people are likely to resist change. But you can do it with lots of effort, patience and enthusiasm. Here are the steps:
1. Train Your Employees
Before you start the training, it would be prudent to make your people aware of the importance and benefits of road and vehicle safety. This could set their minds to the notion that they are also responsible for keeping their vehicles safe.
Seek the assistance of an authority on vehicle and road safety to help you conduct the training. It is a way to show your workers the importance of the matter and let them see that you are taking it seriously.
On the day of the training, introduce to your employees the idea of keeping their vehicles safe by way of pre-trip inspections. Let them know how these can benefit them and make their jobs safer. This will encourage your workers to be receptive with the new process. Give each employee a printed copy of the procedures then explain and demonstrate it to them.
2. Emphasize the Importance of Consistency
Let your drivers understand that the new system you introduce is intended to become a company practice. They will be doing the inspections the same way before each driving day. The steps, when performed consistently, will become a habit and a part of each worker’s daily routine.
3. Document the Inspection
When you document a process, you’re not only recording your findings but making it easier for people to note their observations. Just be sure to create a form for your drivers to fill out when they conduct the inspection. In some industries, this form is called Driver Vehicle Inspection Form which most people call DVIR.
To ensure that your DVIR will serve its purpose, it must have the following attributes:
- A detailed list of the procedures
- A brief description of each part to be checked
- It should provide checkboxes and comment sections to allow an inspector to describe issues concerning specific vehicles they have inspected.
Using a DVIR is an effective means to make vehicle inspections easier. It also helps to save repair time because issues are already identified.
The Drawback of Pre-Trip Vehicle Inspections
There is however a slight drawback with the vehicle pre-inspection system. There are drivers who are not too keen on inspecting their vehicles properly or making reports accurately. If this goes on for an extended period of time, the issue could get worse and become a major problem.
For this reason, some companies prefer to hire a supervisor or outside fleet vehicle maintenance services to do the vehicle inspections. This is a more effective way to prevent vehicle breakdowns or road mishaps which can trigger unwanted costs and lost business opportunities.
If you own a fleet of commercial vehicles, you should consider making vehicle pre-trip inspections a policy in your company. It can really help to avoid breakdowns, unwanted fleet truck repairs, and most importantly, accidents which can mean more unwanted costs, delays and possible legal problems.
Contact Truck N Trailer at (405) 912-5800 for more information and solutions to your fleet service and repair problems.