There are eight levels of inspections, including full (North American Standard Inspection), walk-around driver/vehicle, driver/credentials, special inspections as part of a study, vehicle-only, terminal, and radioactive materials, jurisdictional mandated, and electronic inspection.
 - Photo courtesy of Michelin

There are eight levels of inspections, including full (North American Standard Inspection), walk-around driver/vehicle, driver/credentials, special inspections as part of a study, vehicle-only, terminal, and radioactive materials, jurisdictional mandated, and electronic inspection.

Photo courtesy of Michelin

A Driver Vehicle Inspection Report, or DVIR, is a formal record confirming a driver completed an inspection on a commercial motor vehicle (CMV). Inspections are carried out at the beginning of the day, before work begins, and also at the end of the day when driving is finished (called the pre-trip inspection and post-trip inspection).

Vehicle inspections are an important part of a truck driver’s daily routine and they are essential to keeping vehicles in good condition while ensuring road safety and fleet compliance. Vehicle Inspections are a legal requirement in the U.S., and carriers must keep DVIRs on-site for three months from the date the report is submitted.

We’ve put together this handy guide to understanding everything you need to know about DVIRs so you can keep your drivers safe and your fleets in compliance.

First, some facts:

  • 3.5 million roadside safety inspections are conducted annually.
  • 15 trucks per minute are inspected in North America during the annual International Roadcheck.
  • Failure of an inspection can mean immediate removal from the roads until a repair is complete.
  • An out of-service truck can cost a carrier $861 on average, not including any fines or repairs.
  • FMCSA estimates that the roadside inspections and programs conducted in 2017 prevented 14,000 accidents and 9,000 injuries.

Here is the breakdown of everything involved with DVIRs including regulations, inspections, responsibilities, steps, the introduction of electronic data collection, and penalties.

Understanding the Regulations

In the United States, completing a DVIR is a requirement based on federal regulations.  Vehicle inspection rules also exist in other countries and jurisdictions, such as the province of Ontario in Canada. In 2014, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) rescinded the requirement for drivers to submit an inspection report if no defects or deficiencies are found. DVIR regulations do not apply to the following operators: private motor carriers carrying passengers not as a business, driveaway-towaway, and motor carriers with only one commercial motor vehicle.

Importance of Inspections

The goal of the U.S. and other authorities is to reduce the number of crashes, injuries, and fatalities involving commercial vehicles. DVIRs help ensure that a vehicle is in a safer and optimal condition before and after operation. This provides a safe environment for the driver and anyone around.

In the U.S., Motor Carrier Safety Assistance Program (MCSAP) Inspectors are responsible for carrying out roadside inspections on commercial motor vehicles and drivers. Following the criteria in the North American Standard Inspection Program, inspectors check the trucks to verify if they are in compliance with federal safety and hazardous materials regulations.

There are eight levels of inspections, including full (North American Standard Inspection), walk-around driver/vehicle, driver/credentials, special inspections as part of a study, vehicle-only, terminal, and radioactive materials, jurisdictional mandated, and electronic inspection.

In total, almost 3.5 million inspections were conducted across the country in 2016. The rate of vehicles taken out-of-service (OOS) was 20.05%. Last year, the most frequent vehicle violation during roadside inspections was not having working lamps, according to FMCSA Large Truck and Bus Statistics.

Individual Responsibilities

Prior to the vehicle returning to service, motor carriers must certify any repair, correct deficiencies, or replace defective and missing parts. If repairs are deemed unnecessary to prevent unsafe operations, a carrier must certify the repair wasn’t needed. Before operation, a driver must inspect and sign-off on repairs. Carriers are required to keep DVIRs and certifications for repairs for at least three months at the principal place of business or where the vehicle resides or is maintained.

The DVIR Process

A DVIR includes several basic steps, including the inspection, identification of defects, signing the report, and corrective action.   

  • Step 1: Vehicle Inspection. During an inspection, a driver will perform a circle check of the vehicle, checking under the hood, walking around to look for defects or damage, and starting the vehicle to test the lights and brakes, among other things.
  • Step 2: Report Defects. The driver must report any defects or deficiencies that will impact the safe operation of the vehicle or could lead to a breakdown.
  • Step 3: Sign Off. The driver signs the report then submits it to the motor carrier.
  • Step 4: Corrective Action and Certification of Repairs Motor carriers must immediately repair and certify any defects listed on the DVIR that would affect the safe operation of the vehicle.

Collecting Electronic Data

Electronic data collection is seen as a way to improve the speed of uploading inspection reports. FMCSA supports the electronic collection of inspection data and has shared that more states are adopting this method as it is making reporting processes for drivers much more efficient.

Penalties for Noncompliance 

Carriers who are found to be in noncompliance with DVIR regulations are subject to fines from the Department of Transportation (DOT) officer at their discretion. Aside from the fines laid on by an officer, there are other costs associated with noncompliance. If a vehicle is found unsafe, the vehicle will immediately be out of commission until it’s repaired.
This unplanned downtime can lead to lost revenue for the carrier. In addition, the carrier’s CSA score could take a hit, which would cause a loss of business.

Return to Service: Repairs & Documentation 

A motor carrier must repair all defects identified in a DVIR before returning the vehicle to service. The repair must be documented in writing by the motor carrier or by the shop conduction the repair. If a repair or correction was unnecessary, that must also be documented. This documentation-of-repair must be signed by either the person conducting the repair or by the driver of the vehicle.

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