Inspections help ensure safety for heavy haul truckers and they take great pains to ensure that tractors and trailers are maintained in optimal condition. Heavy haul trucks aren’t like other vehicles. The tractors and trailers used by heavy haulers are subject to stress forces that ordinary vehicles never encounter. If something goes wrong with a heavy hauler, the resultant accident will typically be far more serious than two ordinary passenger vehicles.
Every commercial carrier is required to inspect the tractor and trailer before and after every haul. Each trucking company has its own internal preventative maintenance and safety inspection schedule that can range from every 4 to 12 weeks. Much will depend on the mileage, type of work that’s being performed, and the terrain over which the vehicle travels.
The Department of Transportation (DOT) requires yearly inspections encompassing a variety of systems from brakes, steering and lighting to tires, windshield wipers and the engine. Emergency systems, the battery, exhaust and suspension are inspected and the operator’s CDL and other driver requirements are examined. There are six levels of DOT inspections:
- North American Standard Inspection
- Walk-Around Driver and Vehicle Inspection
- Driver Only Inspection
- Special Inspection
- Vehicle Only Inspection
- Enhanced NAS Inspection for Radioactive Shipments
Reputable heavy haul companies adhere to a regular regimen of preventative maintenance for tractors and trailers. Many employ a multi-point checklist that can include over 100 items. In addition to ensuring safety for others on the road, it’s a cost-savings measure for the tracking company. It extends the life of the equipment and reduces the potential for expensive emergency repairs. Regular mechanical inspections also ensure more uptime for trucks and trailers.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) requires that maintenance schedules for the vehicle be maintained for at least one year while the vehicle is being used and for 6 months after being decommissioned. Regular inspections save time, money, and prevents the company from running afoul of the DOT.
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