Your non-CDL light-duty vehicle drivers face tremendous risk out on the road. Other people, road conditions, and weather all create chances for severe accidents and injuries. Your drivers’ risk doesn’t stop there, however.
Your drivers also face the risk of breakdowns. Breakdowns create delays, wasted time, and unnecessary expenses for companies. Worse yet, breakdowns create unsafe conditions and situations for your employees.
If you want to protect your employees, increase productivity, and improve your bottom line, your drivers need to complete vehicle inspections at the start of each shift.
Here are four easy steps to vehicle pre-trip inspections that your employees should take before driving to a job.
Pre-Trip Inspection Checklist
There are several important steps any driver should follow before getting behind the wheel:
 Vehicle Walk-Around Inspection
Before getting in the vehicle, drivers should walk around the vehicle looking for:
- Fluid leaks.
- Damage to vehicle.
- Tire wear and tire.
- Proper tire inflation.
- Damaged mirrors or lights.
 Check the Engine
- Check the critical engine fluids such as washer, oil, transmission, and coolant.
- Check the hoses, visible wiring, and belts for noticeable wear and tear.
 Interior Vehicle Inspection
- Inspect the inside of the vehicle, checking the seatbelts and other safety equipment.
- Clean out the vehicle of any trash or debris, especially debris that might pose tripping hazards or obstruct your feet while driving.
 Start the Engine
- Start the engine and look for warning lights such as check engine or maintenance required.
- Check when the vehicle is due for an oil change.
- Ensure all of your lights are operational — turn on the headlights, four-way flashers, and interior lights.
- If possible, have someone outside verifying all lights are working.
- Check the windshield wipers for proper operation.
- Check the heater, defroster, and air conditioner.
- Adjust your seat and then mirrors.
Proper Pre-Trip Inspection Tips
If you haven’t implemented any vehicle inspection requirement before, it can be challenging to get your drivers to properly complete them. Just because you say it needs done, doesn’t mean it will be done the right way.
Here are some tips to ensure your drivers have an easy time learning and completing vehicle pre-trip inspections:
 Host a Training Session
Gather your employees and introduce them to vehicle pre-trip inspections. Explain the steps, demonstrate how to do them, and give every employee a print-out listing all the steps.
Perhaps most importantly, start the training session with why these pre-trips will benefit your drivers. Employees are more likely to put forth the effort to learn something if they know what’s in it for them. Explain how pre-trip inspections will make their jobs easier and make them much safer.
 Stay Consistent
Remind your drivers that they should be completing these inspections the same way every time.
If they take the same steps in the same order for every vehicle inspection, it will become a habit. When it’s a habit, your drivers will be much less likely to miss a step.
 Create a Form
Your drivers should have a form they fill out as they inspect the vehicle. These are referred to as a Driver Vehicle Inspection Form (DVIR) in most industries.
An effective DVIR:
- Lists each step.
- Explains the condition each part of the vehicle should be in.
- Provides checkboxes and comment sections to describe issues with the vehicle.
With a DVIR, you make it that much easier for drivers to complete inspections. They also help your maintenance department address issues.
Make Pre-Trip Inspections Company Policy
These four easy steps will help ensure breakdowns can be avoided. They make your company more efficient and much safer.
However, they don’t do anything on their own. It would be best if you made it company policy that drivers are required to complete these. No vehicle can be driven if it hasn’t been inspected, all issues need to be reported, and no driver should leave your company in an unsafe vehicle.
You will save money and time while preventing accidents with these inspections. Safe driving starts before your drivers even leave the parking lot!
About the Author: John Kuder is senior instructional desiger for AvatarFleet, makers of The Fleet Safety Course. This article was authored and edited according to WT editorial standards and style to provide useful information to our readers. Opinions expressed may not reflect that of WT.