The answer is quite simple. Very extensive.
When an individual is responsible for operating a commercial truck, the FMCSA requires them to inspect their vehicles before taking off for their trip. Section §396.11 of the driver vehicle inspection report states that “a driver must be satisfied that both the power unit and the trailer are in safe operating condition before operating the combination.” The reason this regulation exists is to help prevent from having defective trucks occupying the roadway. Aside from that, an inspection helps truck drivers identify any potential hazards that might be present that could pose as a threat to them and to the others that are traveling on the roadway with them.
Now, while it is clear that truckers must inspect their vehicles before they are permitted to operate it, to what extent must they go? The reality is, the FMCSA only stipulates that the trucker must acknowledge that the vehicle is in “safe operating condition” and that they review the last driver’s vehicle inspection report prior to taking off. This means the truck driver must know what to look for and how to properly inspect a truck in order to identify any defects or other hazards that might interfere with their driving.
While most drives learn this when they attend driving school as well as receive guidelines from their employer, it isn’t safe to assume all know how to conduct an adequate inspection. That is why we are sharing below some helpful tips for truckers so that their inspection is extensive and thorough to avoid from operating a vehicle that could potentially cause a serious or even fatal accident.
Pre-Trip Inspection Tips
Some of the first things you will want to inspect when you approach the truck include:
- Check the vehicle for leaks or fluid on the ground.
- Take note of any visible damage.
- Be sure cargo is secured and evenly distributed. If you notice the vehicle is leaning to one side, this might be an indicator that the cargo is not evenly distributed or one or more of your tires is low on air.
Now, here’s where it gets more intricate. There are so many working parts to a commercial truck which is why you need to take your time and inspect each thoroughly. Therefore, below we outline some specific areas you should inspect as well as the parts you will want to pay attention to.
The Engine Compartment
- Oil level
- Coolant level
- Power steering
- Belts-water pump, power steering, alternator
- Shock absorbers and suspensions
- Steering box
- Steering linkage
- Brake chambers and hoses
- Brake drums
Front of the Vehicle
- License plate
Rear of the Vehicle
- Lights, turn signals
- Marker lamps
- Doors and latches
- Cargo gates
- DOT bumper, if it is required
- Splash guards
Aside from these areas to inspect, the National Association of Wastewater Technicians also shares some other parts of the vehicle you will want to check and you can view a list of what these are by clicking here.
The reality is, when you fail to inspect your vehicle properly, you could be putting many lives at risk. One driver was killed in an accident on I-40 in Knoxville, TN in October after “a metal skirt came off a tractor-trailer and went through [their] car’s window [Source: WVLT 8]. The truck driver was not identified and police were working to determine which truck the metal skirt came off of. Therefore, to ensure accidents like this don’t occur, check your vehicle carefully prior to taking off and stop and check it routinely to be sure your load didn’t shift or something didn’t come loose off the vehicle.
I was injured in an accident in Knoxville, TX with a tractor-trailer truck? What should I do?
If you suffered an injury in a wreck that occurred involving you and a tractor-trailer truck, you should consult with a Knoxville, TN truck accident lawyer at your earliest convenience. Whether the accident transpired as a result of the truck driver’s negligent behavior or they failed to inspect their vehicle which led to something falling off, a truck crash attorney will help you determine the true cause of the crash as well as how much your injuries are worth.
If you are ready to be connected with a team of lawyers who are prepared to take a look at your case and explain the many ways they can help you during this unfortunate time in your life, then contact Wykoff & Sikes, PLLC.
Wykoff & Sikes, PLLC can be reached at:
135 Fox Road, Suite B
Knoxville, TN 37922