Post-Trip Inspections with Defects - Protocols and Challenges

What's required of a carrier and driver by FMCSA if a defect is found?

Published On: 01/18/2019
Driver inspecting truck tires
J. J. Keller Industry Consultant Tom Bray

Written by:

Tom Bray

Sr. Industry Business Advisor — J. J. Keller & Associates, Inc.

In this article we discuss what is required of a carrier and driver by FMCSA if a defect is found during the post-trip inspection (§396.11) and how an electronic DVIR can overcome some of the challenges presented by paper DVIRs.

Defect Protocol

If a driver discovers a defect during his/her post-trip inspection, that driver must complete and sign the DVIR and submit it. FMCSA-required specifications govern the routing of DVIRs with defects. Before the vehicle can be operated again, the carrier must address the defect. This involves an official at the carrier determining if the defect needs to be repaired, and then doing or overseeing the repair, or indicating on the DVIR that a repair is not necessary. The carrier official that oversaw the repair or determined it was not necessary then needs to sign the DVIR. The DVIR must then be routed to the next driver to operate the vehicle, who has to sign that he or she agrees with the company official that the repairs were done or that they were not necessary. Once the form is signed by the next driver, it must be submitted to the carrier and retained for three months.

Challenges of Paper DVIRs

When completed on paper, this process can become complicated in some cases. It involves moving a form from the original driver to the maintenance group. From there, it needs to get to the person who reviews DVIRs and makes decisions for the carrier. This will be difficult for carriers that run regional or long-haul vehicles and do not have the vehicles returning to the company facility every night. If the driver writes up a defect, the carrier official that is responsible for overseeing the DVIR may not even see the DVIR for several days. Even if the vehicle does get back to the company facility, the paper form has a lot of steps it has to go through, with each step increasing the odds that something will go wrong and the form will not complete the circuit from the reporting driver, to the carrier official, to the technician, to the carrier official, to the next driver.

The only realistic option for a carrier that has long-haul and region vehicles that uses paper DVIRs is to designate the driver as the official in charge of securing and overseeing the repairs. This means the driver that wrote up the defect would also sign the DVIR as the carrier official, as well as the driver reporting the defect and the next driver to operate the vehicle. This puts a lot of responsibility onto the driver and causing extra work for the driver. Unfortunately, some drivers address the extra responsibility and work by pencil whipping their DVIRs. In other words, on paper, or at least as far as the DVIRs are concerned, the driver NEVER has a defect on his or her vehicle.

Electronic DVIRs Can Help

The use of an e-DVIR can help address many of the issues brought on by a paper DVIR system, in particular, the problems that regional and long-haul carriers have managing the process.

When the inspecting driver submits the E-DVIR with a defect, most systems automatically forward the record electronically to the person responsible for reviewing DVIRs. If a repair is necessary, this person (carrier official) can immediately arrange the repair, even if the vehicle is 500 miles away. Once the carrier official gets word that the repair has been completed, the system allows her or him to digitally sign the e-DVIR and forward it electronically to the next driver who will use the vehicle. If it is not known who the next driver will be, the carrier official can load the e-DVIR into the system to be signed by the next driver, once one is assigned. The next driver will then digitally sign the e-DVIR and submit it for retention.

Bottom Line

When discussing vehicle inspections with the drivers, you need to make it a big deal. What is important to you as a company is what becomes important to your drivers. The reverse is also true. If the drivers believe something is not important to you, it will not be important to them.

Problems arise if drivers are not doing the inspections you require of them. The entire system you have in place for making sure you have safe vehicles on the road will fail and you will have vehicles receiving violations and/or being placed out of service during roadside inspections. Or worse, your driver could have a crash due in part, or fully, to a poorly maintained vehicle which was unable to respond effectively in an emergency situation.

Keep up with vehicle and unit inspections and maintenance the easy way with the J. J. Keller® Encompass® DVIR app. This new app for iPhone®, iPad® and Android™ devices requires no hardware and is ideal for mixed fleets and non-regulated drivers. Learn more here.

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