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When individuals want to travel, they simply get in the car and go. That process is far more complicated for heavy haulers. There’s a myriad of systems that must be inspected before the load ever leaves for its destination. A CDL license is required to drive a tractor-trailer rig and individuals learn how to perform a pre-trip inspection during CDL school.

Pre-Trip Inspection

A pre-trip inspection is critical for safety of the driver, the load, and others on the road. The inspection is required by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to ensure that everything is in safe operating condition. Infractions can result in fines or even having the truck immediately being pulled off the road if a driver is stopped by law enforcement or the Department of Transportation (DOT).

There are six levels of DOT inspections, with multiple systems to be inspected. Some items are checked weekly, while others are inspected daily. The following are just some of the basic inspection requirements as determined by the DOT.

Fluid levels

Leaks

Tires and rims

5th wheel

Tractor and trailer brake connections

Clutch

Shock absorbers

Ball joints

Kingpins

Gauges

Parking brake

Steering

Lights and reflectors

Horn

Windshield wipers

Mirrors

Coupling devices

Emergency equipment

 

Heavy haul drivers will also need to ensure that the load is amply secured and no loose tools or items are left lying on the trailer. The inspections that heavy haul drivers must perform may seem excessive to the average motorist, but it’s all done for safety’s sake. The measures prevent accidents due to situations ranging from brake failure and tire blowouts to trailers that come uncoupled.

Some common mistakes that drivers make is not ensuring the cleanliness of the cab, failure to chock the wheels, and keeping seatbelts properly maintained. A persistent problem is having a missing lug nut, along with not having paperwork in order. All those things can land drivers in hot water with inspectors.

Time is money for a heavy haul driver and it’s understandable that they want to be on the road quickly. There are no hard and fast rules about the time it takes to perform a pre-trip inspection, but smart drivers take their time.

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