Pre-Trip Inspection – How It Impacts Truck Driver Safety
The pre-trip inspection is one of the most important lessons you will learn during truck driver training. If you don’t conduct a pre-trip inspection before every load you deliver, you put yourself as well as others in danger. Today I’m going to talk a little bit about why the pre-trip inspection is so important and how it affects your safety as a truck driver.
Importance of Pre-Trip Inspections
The purpose of a pre-trip inspection is to check the working condition of your vehicle. When you conduct a proper inspection, you are reviewing the mechanical and safety parts of your truck, such as:
- Brake system
- Coupling system
- Lights and reflectors
- Fluid levels (oil, radiator, etc)
- Steering system
- Suspension system
- Security of trailer doors and load
- Tire inflation and tread
If any of the above listed items are not checked or are not operating properly, you could face complications or fatal accidents on the road. By checking these parts, you help ensure that your equipment is safe to operate. You ensure your safe return home to your loved ones, and you help ensure that the people around your vehicle are safe as well. Remember, it might not be your family riding in the car beside your truck, but it is someone else’s.
Avoiding a Disaster
By conducting a thorough pre-trip inspection, you can avoid things like:
- A failed breaking system: This can result in equipment damage and possible death to yourself and/or personnel around your vehicle.
- A failed coupling system: You do not want to be driving down the highway watching your own trailer pass you by. A trailer detaching from its tractor means 60,000 pounds of damage flying down the road with the potential of hitting anyone.
- Bad lights: Bad lights can prevent other vehicles from seeing you at night or in bad weather conditions. Let other drivers know you are there by keeping your truck’s lights in safe, working condition.
- A failed steering system: A failing steering system is like skidding on ice. You don’t have control and your truck is moving toward something you don’t want to hit. Again, this leads to a severe risk of property damage or death.
- A runaway trailer: If your doors are not secure, you could lose your cargo as you drive down the highway. Not only is this dangerous for vehicles behind you, but when you arrive at your delivery point, you will be responsible for the lost load.
- Failed tires: When a trailer tire fails, it tends to fly apart into pieces. This can become a missile hazard on the road for following vehicles, which can cause damage, injury, or even death.
As you read through these examples of parts and what can happen if they fail on the road, you should see one common theme. That is, most, if not all failures on the road that involve a tractor trailer are serious. They can cause immense damage and have the potential to be deadly. Why anyone would want to risk not only the rest of their life, but someone else’s, to cut corners on a 15-minute pre-trip inspection is beyond me. Remember, be safe so you can return home to your loved ones.
Learning the Pre-Trip Inspection
Students struggle with the pre-trip during CDL training quite frequently. When they first look at the inspection sheet, they’re intimidated by the sheer amount of material they are required to learn. They become scared. They panic and become their own worst enemy by trying to avoid it. That being said, the pre-trip is much easier to master if you keep these things in mind:
- The pre-trip inspection can best be learned by first taking your pre-trip checklist and breaking it down into sections. Go out and purchase a 59 cent pack of index cards and create your own flash cards. Do this by breaking down each section into specific parts. Learn the parts first. When you start to learn how to check each component, you will be ahead by already knowing exactly what components to check.
- Do not allow yourself to get overwhelmed. The reality is, most people know more than 50 percent of the pre-trip inspection just by using common sense. Sixteen of the 18 tires are identical and checked exactly the same way. The only differences between them are the steering tires. While 90 percent of those are checked the same way, there are only a few different items to learn on them.
- If it’s a hose, it’s always the same — securely mounted, without cracks, cuts, or leaks, and not frayed. If it’s metal, it’s always securely mounted and void of cracks of breaks.
Remember, the pre-trip inspection is your friend. It prevents loss of equipment and lives, one of which could be your own. If you perform the entire pre-trip inspection every time, you can rest easy knowing that you, your truck, and fellow drivers will all be safe. If you have any tips for learning the pre-trip inspection, be sure to leave them in the comments!
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