The Importance of Prior to Trip Inspections
The old saying, "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure," isn't simply a nice motto to remember from time, for truckers, it may be a necessary mode of thinking to live and work by. It may be the case that some drivers who are new to the industry view prior to trip inspections as pesky, unnecessary and time-consuming chores.
While an inspection before hitting the road can take some time to complete as well as serve as a categorically "pesky" part of the routine, it can be one of the most important driving rituals that one commits to.
Instilling the idea of preliminary inspections within a driver is not simply one of importance in terms of compliance, but also one of importance in terms of safety for both the driver and others traversing upon the roads with them.
Though sometimes a hassle, these preliminary trucking investigations can serve as a life-changing activity for a trucker.
What is a Prior To Trip Inspection?
In the most simplistic of terms, a prior to trip inspection (or a pre-trip inspection) is when a driver completes an overview of their equipment and any load they may be carrying to assess if there is any damage or potential problems that might arise when on the road.
During this period of inspection, a driver should keep a keen eye out for any possible issues that may arise. Even if there are items in the look-over that may seem trivial, a driver should note them and tend to them, if necessary.
Drivers should be on the lookout for obvious and visible problems such as damage to the truck or low fluid levels, but they should also look ahead for problems they might address right away – a low fuel gauge, for example, may not be an immediate problem, but it may soon become a problem. This can be easily remedied, and is certainly a preliminary issue one might note in an inspection.
Failing to be on the lookout during this pre-trip exercise may not just find the driver on the wrong side of the law, but can find one who is driving to be negligent and in many ways selfish due to their disregard for the safety of their rig and thereby the safety of others.
Company Drivers and Inspections
Although it is true that all drivers, independent contractors included, must legally complete a prior to trip inspection before operating a vehicle, it is not unlikely that company drivers may be under greater scrutiny in successfully completing a pre-trip than those operating of their own accord.
There are a great deal of expectations frequently placed upon company drivers, and prior to trip inspections are no exception to the rule. Should a driver have an accident or incident that can be chalked up to a negligent pre-trip, not only will the individual trucker be in trouble, but the company may very well be held accountable in addition to the driver for dispatching a person who did not follow safety protocol.
These inspections may also come into play when team truckers at a company are involved. Considering that both seats are responsible for the safety and reliability of their truck, it is of even greater importance that an accurate and correct appraisal of the truck is completed before getting dispatched.
The more parties that become involved in a pre-trip may lead to greater legal implications should an accident occur. On the other side of that equation, the more parties involved means a greater chance for less accidents – in this situation, more fingers in the pie may be useful. Some companies have fleet managers or other employees who oversee safety operations with a great deal of diligence. However, drivers should not count on this as a safety net of any kind, as it is better to have an inspection fully completed before another party comes along rather than leaving it up to your superior.
Getting To Know The Inspection Process
It can be difficult for some drivers to know where to begin in the prior to trip inspection and what a full investigation might entail. Knowing how to make the rounds is crucial for the driver who is prepping to take their cdl test, as they will be quizzed on their expertise of safety prior to hitting the asphalt, so to speak.
Different drivers will recommend different ways in which to best and most efficiently accomplish their inspections. Just as different drivers have their own unique ways in which they transport various freight, every driver will have their own unique way in which they get this important job done. There is no textbook manner in which to complete an inspection, and surveying multiple drivers in this activity may be very beneficial.
Aside from consulting online videos uploaded from an owner-operator or an established trucking company, drivers-in-training might do well to hit the long white line and see in person how these drivers actually do the work before heading out. Get in touch with a local trucking fleet and explain your situation – a kindly fleet manager may be able to bring a prospective trucker in to see how a job is done properly and observe the professionals at work. Having the chance to see how a driver completes their inspection firsthand will undoubtedly help those who are learning the ins and outs of a trucking career.
If one has the chance to see the professionals check out their rigs to make sure they are compliant, ask questions during the process. Inquire as to why they believe a certain aspect of the truck looks normal or why something may look questionable – in other words, get some information in seeing what they see. Veterans of the road can provide valuable insight that other online sources or authorities may not be able to give to a trucker.
Importance of a Pre-Trip
As is the case with many of the necessary items of trucking, safety is a key element in completing these activities. As drivers know, safety is a two-way street, as it does not just benefit the trucker themselves but those driving around them as well. When one gets into the cab they must consider the entirety of the road ahead of them and those they share it with.
Completing a prior to inspection trip is not the same as dispensing the wisdom associated with distracted driving nor is it necessarily the same as providing winter driving tips, but taking a look at one's vehicle and gear before even thinking about what level of confidence they will display on the road may be a life-changing experience. The most focused and diligent drivers are not useful if they are overlooking major problems with their equipment, nor are they a useful part of the professional industry if they are failing to combat issues before they become larger problems.
Some drivers may feel that even if they complete a thorough inspection they will be alone in repairing a problem or addressing an issue that may come up. For company drivers, maintaining a close relationship with a maintenance crew or an in-house mechanic is an ideal way to swiftly and effectively take care of an issue. An owner-operator may not have these resources readily available to them, but taking the same route of cultivating a close relationship with a mechanic of some sort may prove to be an incredibly beneficial route to take.
If nothing else, taking the time to complete an inspection is the type of a behavior demonstrated by a driver who truly cares. The history of the trucking industry in the country is built on a level of care and integrity for one's job. While there are many different ways to display this care, perhaps the easiest method is to be compliant in the matter of investigating one's equipment to ensure that it will operate well and will not inhibit others on America's roadways.
Important Industry Knowledge
Understanding a prior to trip inspection is perhaps one of the most important pieces of knowledge that a driver can bring to the table when beginning their career or as they transition from one position to another and from one company to another.
Each company may be slightly different in what their expectations from drivers in these inspections may be, but they all boil down to one similar element – taking the time to care about their profession.
Learn about the multiple habits that a successful trucker exhibits and you will soon be on the path to professionalism yourself – and if all goes well, an exciting career as a transportation professional in your country will be yours.
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