One thing that I really enjoy doing is performing road evaluations with experienced professional truck drivers. We both get to go on the road together and perform normal driving routines such as city driving, and the driver gets to show me their driving experience on the highway. Of course, before we get onto the road or highway, a Daily Vehicle Inspection (DVI) is required to be performed by the driver.
What are the most common items missed, ignored, or not checked correctly, while performing the DVI?
First are lights. All drivers regularly turn on their lighting system and make sure that the lights are working. The common errors or omissions here are three. One, they forget to turn on all the lights. Often the fog lights are not checked. If a light is installed on the unit, it must work. Therefore, you need to turn on all the lights. The second common mistake is not checking the high beams of the headlights. And the third mistake is thinking that the 4-way flashers are also showing you that the brake lights are functioning correctly. The brake lights need to be checked by applying pressure to the brake pedal.
Staying with lights raises my second concern. The ABS lights – when I ask the driver how they check the ABS system, they look at me in a confused state. They often are not familiar with the dashboard indicator that comes on when the ignition is turned on and then goes off after a few seconds. Drivers are not watching for this. They are also not observing the trailer ABS light. When you plug in the trailer electrical cord, the trailer ABS light, when functioning correctly, will again turn on and then turn off after a few seconds. It stands to reason that if the ABS lights don’t come on and then turn off after a set time, the ABS system is not working correctly. Or if the ABS light remains lit, it is not functioning correctly.
Thirdly, the most concerning item missed or ignored are the brakes. I am sure we all agree that truck brakes are important to road safety. Both for the operator’s safety and for the motoring public. Specifically, take note of ‘Pushrod Travel.’ Nine of ten times that I have been in a truck doing a road test, the driver doesn’t mention pushrod travel. I believe that this is both the responsibility of the carrier and the drivers.
For the truck drivers, this is a very common violation found at the inspection scales. Of course, having 20% or more out of adjustment will also result in the vehicle being put Out of Service (OOS). Violations often result in tickets and always result in a major waste of time that most drivers are not paid for.
The trucking company could make checking the Pushrod Travel a priority by installing brake stroke indicators. For the carrier, by installing the indicators, it is telling the drivers to inspect the pushrod. Of course, if you install the brake stroke indicators, the trucking company will need to do some truck driver education. They must show the drivers how to use this new device.
I get pushback from carriers that these are too expensive. They need to be purchased, installed, and maintained. This is not exactly true. Many companies simply use Zip Ties. A Zip Tie when correctly installed shows the driver the amount of travel that the pushrod is moving. The Zip Tie solution is simple, and very inexpensive as well as easily installed by mechanics. Then a simple education of your driver force is all that remains.
Drivers – when you are performing your Daily Vehicle Inspection, pay attention to your lights, ABS system and your Push Rod Travel on your brakes. They are all very important and can save you a violation, a ticket, or your life.
Stay safe out there.
Chris has been involved in trucking most of his adult life. He drove truck for and worked in various office/management positions for a major truck company. His last position of 5 years in the safety department where he was responsible for the recruiting of Owner Operators and their compliance. He joined a trucking insurance company in 2001 and has been in the insurance side of things until making Safety Dawg a full-time endeavour.