Educate yourself

Safety education is one of the essentials every truck driver must pay due attention to. It is not something to be neglected or taken lightly. At Compass we want to make sure that we are giving you all necessary tools for your safety. Browse our articles and tips here.

  • This past winter season has been a hard one for most of the nation. All winter long we have talked about the road and weather conditions. Signs of spring bring the feeling of relief that we made it through another winter. Spring also has its issues and hazards we must communicate to our drivers.

    Some tips are provided below to share with your drivers to make this transition smooth and safe:

    - Fatigue:
    - The change to Daylight Savings Time causes an adjustment to our “normal” sleep patterns and habits. Daylight Savings Time also provides more daylight at the end of the day so we tend to do more outside and proper rest can be reduced. Emphasize proper rest with your drivers before a trip and remind them to be aware of fatigue and sleep pattern changes as the adjustment to Daylight Savings Time is made.

    - Weather
    – Rain: Spring means storms and heavy rain. Strong rain can increase the potential for hydroplaning. Visibility during storms is reduced due to blowing rain and debris. Care must be taken to adjust for the limited visibility experienced by the “regular” drivers we share the road with as well.

    - Weather
    – Wind: Spring storms also bring high winds. Large profile vehicles of any size must be aware and prepared for high winds, especially cross winds. Be extra careful when coming out from protected areas and be ready for other drivers in high profile vehicles to wander from their lanes. Slow down and increase your attention and focus to the driving environment during storms. Turn your lights on and be prepared for reduced traction and vehicle handling changes.

    - Pedestrians: Warmer weather brings people out to enjoy the season. Be mindful of joggers, bicyclists and kids playing. Professional drivers should always be aware of pedestrians but even more so during the spring.

    - Motorcycles: Many people are taking up riding motorcycles as a hobby. A large percentage of these riders are not as experienced as they should be, especially with respect to defensive “riding”. The best way to help all motorcyclists ride safely is to give them a large safety zone.

    - Construction Zones: Road repair activity will increase as the weather improves. As professional drivers we should set the example in work zones by slowing down, staying in the correct lane and increasing our awareness and focus in construction work zones.
    Please remind your drivers to use extra caution in any construction zone.

    Spring is a time we should enjoy but we must keep safe driving at the top of our list as we talk with our drivers each day.

  • As a professional driver, you must be very patient to drive defensively and safely. This is becoming increasingly difficult with the “I want it now” attitude everyone seems to have these days.

    Mobile phone commercials talk about how fast they can get data and information to you. There are ATM’s everywhere, and self check-out lanes are a result of our nation’s growing impatience. Fast food drive thru lanes are judged by how FAST they serve you, not how GOOD the food is. All these examples point to a nation that has become IMPATIENT.

    Why is this IMPATIENCE important? The ability to be patient and examine the driving environment on our aggressive highways is the very foundation of driving safely to deliver your freight and come home safely.

    Let’s examine some of the everyday driving events that might indicate impatience so we don’t allow them to become habit:
    - Following too closely – Why do drivers do this? it is because we believe the car in front of us is going too slow and holding us back from getting where we need to go. A professional driver in a commercial motor vehicle should NEVER tailgate and attempt to “push” the driver ahead to go faster. This is a primary reason why the trucking industry has a poor reputation with the motoring public. STAY CALM and PATIENT. It reduces your stress level, gives you more time to analyze the driving scene around you, improves our image AND will help you prevent a rear-end collision.

    - Excessive lane changes
    – We have all seen drivers on the highway, in both passenger cars and commercial vehicles, that can’t seem to just stay in their lane and be PATIENT! As a professional driver, you expose yourself to the potential of a serious collision by changing lanes. Even if you are experienced, have all the mirrors you can hang on a truck and know the proper procedures for a safe lane change, when you leave your lane of travel, you are at risk. You might not see a car that cut in, or the other vehicle might make a lane change exactly when you do in an attempt to “get in front of the big truck.” This is another symptom of the impatience epidemic!  Safe backing – Do we ALWAYS get out and look before we back up? We all know this is a standard, proven safety procedure. No, many do not and take this precaution, and it is a reason we still see backing collisions in all kinds of transportation operations. Our impatience causes us to rationalize that we can use the mirrors and we can “save some time” by just checking those mirrors and backing up. BE PATIENT…Get out and Look!

    - Safe entry & exit
    – This is another “classic” example of the lack of patience! I would bet that EVERY professional driver in this nation has seen and knows the Three Point of Contact procedure to get in or out of the cab. Our industry has grown into a “just in time” mode of transportation and we convince ourselves that the few extra seconds we think we are saving by either improper 3 point procedure, jumping down from the truck or carrying items as we exit the truck will “save some time.” The very few seconds that MIGHT be saved are erased when you slip and are injured and can’t work. Take your time – be PATIENT.

    Road rage is another sign of our nation’s growing impatience. It is sadly, very common to see “gestures” from other vehicles on the road. Getting cut off in traffic seems to be an everyday occurrence. The common courtesy of moving over to allow a merging vehicle onto the highway is almost gone and when we DO decide to move over, other vehicles give us looks as if we did something wrong! Another very sad statement of the increasing culture of impatience is that most states have enacted laws which REQUIRE vehicles to move over for emergency or disabled vehicles on the shoulder of the highway. This has always been one of the most basic of common courtesy among the professional drivers of our nation, even though it risks an extra lane change!! The message this month is very simple. Please be patient as you drive and deliver the freight that keeps our nation strong and growing!

    A good way to build a personal culture of patience is to “pre-trip” yourself. Get in a frame of mind to deal with the events that will take place on the road during your trip. Give other vehicles safe passage, even if you believe they are “wrong.” The “Golden Rule” applies – Do unto others as you would have them do unto you!

  • You are driving down a familiar road; you’ve run this way a hundred times. You know each bump and curve. You know what time you will get done and back to the terminal. You are comfortable and awake!! Then as you round a curve, out in your lane is a large deer (or any other kind of animal you might see)!!! How do you deal with this? Your life and the safety of the families in the cars around you depend on the correct answer and action.

    Did you think, MISS THE DEER??

    It is human nature to “think” this, but as a professional driver it is the worst action possible in this scenario. Why? If you make an aggressive and sudden maneuver in a commercial truck, you could lose control and run off the road, overturn or strike other cars and trucks around you. Not worth the risk for a deer, wouldn’t you agree? What can you do as a professional driver to be prepared for a deer in the road:

    • Be aware of where deer may be and their habits and actions – Watch for deer warning signs; they are NOT randomly placed! Increase your focus and scan attention when traveling on roads near heavy woods, farm fields and crops, creeks and ravines. Be familiar with time lines of hunting seasons; it will make them more active. Think like a hunter – even if you don’t hunt. If you can anticipate where the deer may be or will be, you can be prepared to deal with them being in the road.

    • SLOW DOWN - I know, you’ve read this in these articles before…. It is still one of the best safety habits and will continue to be. If you know deer will be on the move, if you know where they may be crossing or living, if you know they come out at night and you know you are driving in thick woods…. SLOW DOWN and watch the side ditches and shoulders for them… If you are running at reduced speed, if you do see a deer, it is perfectly acceptable to brake hard as long as you stay in your lane. If the hard brake doesn’t allow you to not strike the deer, it will at least reduce the damage to the equipment when you do hit it.

    • DON’T SWERVE - HIT THE DEER. This is VERY hard for any driver to do, but it is the only way to not create a more serious accident by trying to miss the deer. The first time it happens it WILL scare you speechless, since your built-in defense mechanism is screaming in your brain to avoid the object in the road.

    • High beams - many drivers believe bright lights will force the deer off the road and back to the woods. Ever hear of the saying, “Like a deer in the headlights?” I can’t say for sure, but I bet I know where the saying came from!!! High beams will most likely only cause the deer to freeze, and with what little brain capacity they have, try to figure out why that noise is coming from those bright lights?? High beams will increase your ability to see, but usually will not cause a deer to move, only freeze them in place!

    Deer and animal strikes are an unfortunate part of this business. You can protect yourself, the families we share the road with and save equipment repair cost by being prepared for deer being in the road. Our goal is to help you come home safely.

  • An early fall seems very likely with the temperatures already dropping. Fall means romance is in the air – for most deer!!

    Deer will be more active as the season changes to fall. There are two main reasons: “romance” or the rut as deer hunters know it and of course, hunting season. Yes, there are other types of animals that can wander out into the path of a commercial vehicle, but none quite as common as the white-tail deer.

    Let’s examine some of the issues and how we can support our drivers to be prepared for and prevent accidents from deer on the highway. Tips you can share with your drivers are included after each section (in bold italics).

    Where are the deer? As we review loss information, deer accidents take place all year long, even though they are more frequent during the fall. The most obvious answer to where the deer are, are the warning signs posted on the highways. Next, watch for highways that travel through heavily wooded areas, farm fields, creeks or ravines. All these areas provide cover, food and water.

    Increase your awareness and scan a wider area of the shoulder. Deer WILL be on the move and will be even less aware than other times of the year. What will the deer do? Become familiar with how deer think and move. They don’t have huge mental capacity and this is even further diluted when they are “looking for love,” hungry, or being shot at!! The answer for what they will do – step out in front of your truck and NOT move.

    Expect deer to be on the highway, especially at dawn and dusk or around woods, creeks, and farm fields.

    How can deer strike accidents be avoided? Be alert, slow down, controlled brake, and STAY IN THE LANE OF TRAVEL. Sounds pretty easy doesn’t it? This is the most challenging part of preventing deer accidents. We are “programmed” as human beings to try to avoid things in our way. This is why we blink or duck when something comes at us. The damages caused by trying to miss a deer instead of hitting it are MUCH worse and can include having an accident with another vehicle or running off the road and rolling the vehicle.

    When a deer is in your lane or even on the shoulder, slow down and stay in your lane. It is better to hit the deer than try to avoid and have a more serious accident. Deer “control” devices on the truck? Most companies that run deer whistles or alerts are convinced that they work. They are inexpensive and are one more line of defense to prevent deer accidents even if their functionality is proven or not. Deer bumpers are also an excellent means of limited damage to the front of the truck under the “hit the deer” method of preventing more serious accidents from trying to swerve and miss the deer.

    Deer whistles are a good control but in the end, it is better to HIT THE DEER than try to avoid it and cause more harm to you, other cars and families, and your truck. As frustrating as they are, deer on the highway and hitting them are a part of the trucking industry. Use the tips provided in this article to remind your drivers of increased deer activity. The goal is to get them home safely and the customer’s freight delivered in the same condition as when it was loaded.

  • Safety as a professional driver is a full-time responsibility. Attention to driving safely in order to protect your own well-being and the general public is at the heart of a strong personal safety culture. This focus is hard to maintain with all the information and issues pending from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) in addition to your daily activities and responsibilities. Some of the issues and distractions you must deal with include:

    • New regulations and enforcement emphasis on texting and use of telephones and other in-cab communication devices
    • Drivers we share the road with not giving full attention to the process of driving safely
    • CSA (formerly known as CSA 2010) activating in December and our need to be in compliance and avoid violations on scale and roadside inspections
    • Life – Family, money, health, projects, etc.
    • New Log Book regulations and Electronic Logs

    As a professional driver, once you pre-trip your truck and yourself and climb in the cab it is VERY important to place all these distractions in the background and make driving safely your primary and ONLY task. We all know that taking your attention away from the road is very dangerous. We must keep our attention on the highway and the driving environment clear and active to keep everyone safe.

    CSA (formerly known as CSA 2010) will be activated for public view in December of this year. Most all of you know by now that CSA is the replacement for SafeStat.

    CSA will monitor and score violations on scale and roadside inspections to determine the overall safety performance of trucking companies and drivers.
    An easy way to think about CSA and be successful is this:
    most of the rules and regulations trucking companies and drivers must follow have not changed. The roadside inspection process has not changed. If you continue to do detailed pre-trip inspections and comply with all Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration regulations with the goal of No Violation inspections, CSA will not be an issue for you and thus a minor distraction! If you approach driving as a serious responsibility with the intent of coming home safely after delivering your load, you will be successful. It is MUCH less stressful to do the right things as a professional driver and in the process enjoy your chosen career.
    Remember, our nation would grind to a halt if not for you, the professional driver doing your job safely every day.

  • This month we take another look at two key and critical issues in the transportation industry:

    • Distracted Driving
    • CSA – Compliance, Safety and Accountability (aka – CSA 2010).

    Distracted Driving - This very important topic has been widely covered in the news media the past few months. I think we can all agree it is a serious issue for all drivers, but especially for professional drivers of commercial motor vehicles. Attention drawn away from driving, even for a split second, can produce catastrophic results. Some current news articles have raised the concern that the extreme media coverage of this issue and the passing of the final rule by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration covering texting and mobile device usage in commercial motor vehicles has in effect driven this issue “underground”.

    Before texting and mobile device use was put in the media spotlight, many people tried to do this very unsafe act as “safely” as they could by holding the device up near the steering wheel to make the look away from the road to the device very quick and in their line of sight. Now, some sources report, people are continuing to text (note- not necessarily CMV drivers) but for fear of being pulled over and cited, are holding the device down below view of enforcement officers. This makes the “look away” time VERY lengthy and dangerous.

    The bottom line on texting in ANY kind of vehicle is DON’T DO IT…. As far as telephone use while driving, it is still “legally” allowed in VERY specific circumstances outlined in the new Mobile Communication Device final rulemaking (Docket FMCSA-2009-0370) but without a hand- free device or speakerphone it is still VERY distracting.

    How many times have you come up behind a vehicle traveling slower than traffic, checked and double checked traffic conditions and maneuvered around the vehicle only to find the person ON THE PHONE? I am sure there is extensive research on this subject from various lobby groups with the arguments for both sides, but to me , this example tells the story for conventional cell phone use while driving…DON’T DO IT!!! CSA – all sources indicate that CSA (Compliance, Safety and Accountability aka, CSA 2010) will be activated for public view in December 2010. Our industry must be prepared to field questions from shippers regarding the data contained in CSA. In view of this concern, in an interview conducted with Transport Topics at the ATA meeting in Phoenix, AZ, Ms.

    Ferro of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, indicated that the wording currently used indicating a motor carrier is “deficient” in any of the BASIC’s will be changed to avoid any negative connotation with shippers or cause harm to the motor carrier in legal proceedings. She further stated that they (FMCSA) are still working on whether it is feasible to assign fault to crashes in CSA and “we will continue to treat the crash data as we do under SafeStat and keep if off FMCSA’s public website.” The message to push with your drivers is: CSA will activate in December 2010. Continued focus on pre-trip inspections and overall compliance with ALL FMCSA regulations will produce roadside and scale inspections with NO VIOLATIONS, which is the only way to be truly successful with CSA.

  • Safety publications spend most of their time and space on issues connected with driving safely. What is not covered as often is working safely around and on the truck to prevent injuries.

    As a professional driver, when you are injured you are not at your best, physically or mentally. Many drivers will try to “tough it out” when they are injured for a variety of reasons. It is admirable to believe that not reporting an injury will help the company, but in reality it is not a good idea. First of all, if you continue working while injured, as noted above, you will not be at full strength and could injure yourself more severely OR make a mistake in your driving and be involved in a traffic crash hurting other people. An injury that is not reported can get worse if not treated. Later when you are in so much pain you can’t continue to “tough it out” and have to report it, the actual injury date and circumstances will be revealed. This could be considered a late report by your company, even though you thought you were saving the company money. The insurance company monitors records for late reports and will question policies and procedures regarding injuries and claims. Working and driving while injured, even if you think it is minor, can aggravate the injury making getting you back to full health and strength an even more painful and time consuming process. Report all injuries as directed by your motor carrier.

    Since this is coming to you during winter weather, let’s take a look at some tips to keep you focused on not being injured:

    - Slip-Trip-Fall:
    Non-driving work around a truck, especially in winter conditions, requires focus and preparation. Specialized equipment such as flatbeds or lift gates require attention to detail to be sure you are not injured. Use the 3-point contact getting in and out of the cab or on and off the trailer. Walk gingerly, testing each step. In extremely slick walking conditions it is helpful to “walk like a penguin” shuffling your feet forward without really picking them up. Use hand rails and keep your hands free to do so or keep your balance. If a part or connection you are trying to move or open is cold and won’t move, don’t force it. The metal or the part will most certainly be sturdier than the body part you are using and an injury will result.

    - Winter and cold weather exposure: An article came across one of the major news wires stating that we now have snow in 49 of the 50 states, so most everyone who reads this will be dealing with winter conditions as you deliver your customers’ freight and get home safely. Dress for the weather. Don’t get out of the cab with a light coat or no coat. You will get cold quickly and the cold will cause you to not think clearly and create the potential for an injury. Many drivers think getting chilled will cause you to get a cold. Studies have proven that the chill does not give you the cold but weakens your body’s defense system so when you are exposed to someone who has a cold, your body is not able to fight it off.

    - Prepare for the work: Think about what you need to accomplish and put on the correct protective clothing to get it done safely. You will be more comfortable and able to focus and most likely avoid being injured, which is what we want, to get you back from your trip in the same shape as you left. Stretch and get your muscles ready for work before you exit the warm cab out into the elements.

    I have used the saying, “It hurts to be hurt” as I discussed injury prevention with professional drivers. I know it is a silly saying, but it is a easy way to remind ourselves that being injured is not good for us, our families or the motor carrier we drive for. Take care, stay focused and come home injury free!

  • As a professional driver, a primary function of your daily efforts is to protect the motoring public. Our nations kids are a part of this motoring public and require our attention and support as they learn and grow to someday be the leaders of our country.

    Driving in or around school zones requires your complete and undivided attention. Some tips for School Zones include:

    • Avoid School Zones whenever possible. Remove the risk and reduce the stress.
    • If avoiding the school zone is not possible, increase your awareness and watch for kids walking or crossing the street.

    SLOW DOWN – slower speeds will give you more time to stop or avoid kids who may not see you or know what to do.

    • Newly licensed drivers around schools must also be a part of your safety awareness. When the newly licensed students are also starting a new school year the combination can be very dangerous.

    • Parents dropping off or picking up students may be distracted and pull out without looking. Give them extra space and consideration.

    • School buses should also be given extra attention.

    • A new school year may mean new bus drivers who are often part time and are readjusting to the size and handling of the bus.

    • A bus running slowly may be watching for their next stop or monitoring the kids and not paying attention to their driving environment.

    • A slow running bus may also be preparing to stop. Be aware and prepared.

    • Watch for kids as they wait for the bus or exit from it. They will be more focused on getting home and may cross the street without warning.

    Give school busses traveling on major highways extra space. School busses are often used to transport students to various after school activities and may not be familiar with the traffic conditions and speed of a major highway.

    The task of safe driving becomes even more important when kids are involved.

    Take your time and do your part to protect our nation’s youth, at all times, but especially as a new school year begins.

  • As a professional driver one of the safe driving behaviors that are critical to your success and avoiding crashes is maintaining a safe following distance.
    This is a challenge as many of the motoring public that we share the highways with do not understand the danger of cutting in front of a large commercial vehicle. Let’s take a look at some of the issues and how you can increase your safety awareness regarding following distance and preventing rear-end crashes:

    • Speed Sense – The trucks we drive today are very advanced and ride better than ever before in the history of our industry. The use of air ride on today’s trucks is great but it also creates a disconnect with sensing the speed you are traveling. SPEED and FOLLOWING TOO CLOSELY are serious issues in trucking. It is critical to be focused on a safe speed for road, weather and traffic conditions.

    • Motor Public Awareness – Even with the efforts of safety groups to educate the motoring public, most people do not understand the dangers of sudden or drastic movements around a large truck. Maintaining a SAFE FOLLOWING DISTANCE on today’s highways requires extra focus. As a professional driver it is a basic responsibility to watch out for “regular” drivers and make adjustments to avoid a crash; yes, even if the other person is “wrong”. You would expect the same from any other driver that your family was driving near.

    • Complacency and Distracted Driving – As a professional driver you have a very hard job. Your work environment changes constantly. This requires focus on the task of driving safely and dedication to your profession. Be involved in the work of driving the truck all the times.

    MOVE YOUR EYES - CHECK YOUR MIRRORS AND DO NOT DO THINGS THAT WILL DISTRACT YOU from your responsibility of driving safely. We must watch out for the families we share the nations’ highways with and help them return home safely.

    • Following Distance – A good rule of thumb for following distance is 7 seconds when traveling under 40 miles per hour. Adding one second when traveling over 40 MPH for 8 seconds total, is considered the MINIMUM in ideal conditions. Traffic, weather and time of day will all create situations where EXTRA following distance should be used. Things happen on the road and the best way to be ready for the uncertainty of the open road is to control your speed and maintain a wide cushion of safe following distance.

    Managing your speed for conditions and being VERY focused on safe following distance are habits of a professional driver that will keep you and the families we share the road with safe.

  • Summer brings unique challenges for our professional drivers. Hot weather is hard on the human body as well as the equipment. The summer season also presents several defensive driving issues that we must adjust for and recognize.
    Let’s take a look at some of these summer driving challenges and tips to support your drivers as they work delivering customer’s freight.

    Motor Homes, Campers and Trailers – Boats and Campers are out on the nation’s highways as families take advantage of the warm weather to enjoy recreational activities. Many of the drivers pulling these recreational vehicles have not pulled a trailer since last summer and may not be used to the dynamics of the vehicle. Operators of these vehicles may not be accustomed to blind spots, length of the vehicles or may change lanes suddenly or cut corners short. Proper and preventative maintenance may not have been performed on these vehicles and trailers, which is why we see them on the side of the road frequently. Give drivers in recreational vehicles and those pulling trailers extra space. Expect them to travel more slowly, change lanes unexpectedly and make sudden movements. Slow down or move over if they are on the shoulder of the road with mechanical problems.

    Fatigued Drivers – Time is always short, but seems more so when taking trips during the summer. Many of the drivers will push their limits on driving and may be tired when driving. Dusk is a particularly dangerous time of day as families try to get home or to the lake or their campground.
    Be on the alert for fatigued drivers pushing their physical limits. Maintain a larger margin of safety when near a driver that may be tired. Watch for not staying in their lane and erratic speed changes.

    Distracted Drivers – In addition to the modern electronic devices that are common today, vacation travelers often have the added distraction of a vehicle full of kids and family. GPS devices are very common and may cause distractions, especially if the driver “obeys” the guidance from the GPS suddenly to not miss an exit or turn.
    Remind your drivers of the potential of distracted drivers during the summer travel season. The advice is the same as many of the other challenges of summer driving. Give them extra space and expect sudden maneuvers.

    Road Construction and Congestion – Dealing with summer travelers is dangerous enough, but add in the fact of more road construction projects and zones increases the risk substantially. Professional drivers must be focused when approaching and in construction zones. We also must stress patience with our drivers as delays and slower traffic takes place during the summer driving season.
    Ask your drivers to be extra safe when approaching and in construction zones.

    Impaired Drivers - Alcohol misuse is an issue that must be discussed. Seasonal drivers may attempt to drive after drinking on their boats or while camping and try to get home when not functionally or legally able to do so.
    Remind your drivers to be on alert for impaired drivers. Report them to the proper authorities and stay far away if erratic driving is observed.

    The goal is to get our drivers home safely from their loads and trips. If we can support our drivers during this season we can also help the families traveling for the summer season get home safely as well.


    Leaks/Hoses (Pre Trip Inspection)

    Look for puddles on the ground. Look for dripping fluids on the underside of the engine and transmission. Inspect hoses for condition and leaks.

    Oil Level (Pre Trip Inspection)

    Indicate where the dipstick is located. Make sure the oil level is within safe operating range. The level must be above the refill mark.

    Coolant Level (Pre Trip Inspection)

    Inspect the reservoir sight glass, or If the engine is not hot, remove the radiator cap and check for visible coolant level.

    Power Steering Fluid (Pre Trip Inspection)

    Indicate where the power steering fluid dipstick is located. Check for adequate power steering fluid level. The level must be above the refill mark.

    Engine Compartment Belts (Pre Trip Inspection)

    Check the following belts for snugness (up to ¾ inch play at center of belt), cracks, or frays: Power steering belt. Water pump belt. Alternator belt. Air compressor belt.

    Note: If any of the components listed above are not belt driven, you must: Make sure the component(s) are operating properly, are not damaged or leaking, and are mounted securely. Pre Trip Inspection Cab Check/Engine Start

    Clutch/Gearshift (Pre Trip Inspection)

    Depress the clutch. Place the gearshift lever in neutral (or park, for automatic transmissions). Start the engine, then release the clutch slowly.

    Oil Pressure Gauge (Pre Trip Inspection)

    Make sure the oil pressure gauge is working. Check that the pressure gauge shows increasing or normal oil pressure, or that the warning light goes off. If equipped, the oil temperature gauge should begin a gradual rise to the normal operating range.

    Temperature Gauge (Pre Trip Inspection)

    Make sure the temperature gauge is working. The temperature should begin to climb to the normal operating range or the temperature light should be off.

    Ammeter/Voltmeter (Pre Trip Inspection)

    Check that the gauges show the alternator and/or generator is charging or that the warning light is off.

    Air/Vacuum Gauge (Pre Trip Inspection)

    Check for proper operation of, and acceptable readings on the air and/or vacuum gauge(s).

    Speedometer (Pre Trip Inspection)

    The speedometer should be present, not obscured or obviously broken.

    Mirrors and Windshield (Pre Trip Inspection)

    Mirrors should be clean and adjusted properly from the inside. Windshield should be clean with no illegal stickers, obstructions, or damage to the glass.

    Emergency Equipment (Pre Trip Inspection)

    Check for spare electrical fuses. Check for three red reflective triangles. Check for a properly charged and rated fire extinguisher.

    Steering Play (Pre Trip Inspection)

    Non-power steering: Check for excessive play by turning the steering wheel back and forth. Play should not exceed 10 degrees (or about two inches on a 20- inch wheel). Power steering: With the engine running, check for excessive play by turning the steering wheel back and forth. Play should not exceed 10 degrees (or about two inches on a 20-inch wheel) before the front left wheel barely moves.

    Wipers/Washers (Pre Trip Inspection)

    Check that wiper arms and blades are secure, not damaged, and operate smoothly. If equipped, windshield washers must operate correctly.

    Lighting Indicators (Pre Trip Inspection)

    Test that dash indicators work when the corresponding lights are turned on: Left turn signal. Right turn signal. 4-way emergency flashers. High beam headlight.

    Horn (Pre Trip Inspection)

    Check that air horn and/or electric horn work.

    Heater/Defroster (Pre Trip Inspection)

    Test that the heater and defroster works.

    Safety Belt (Pre Trip Inspection)

    Check that the safety belt is securely mounted, adjusts, and latches properly.

    Lights/Reflectors (Pre Trip Inspection)

    Check that all external lights and reflective equipment are clean and functional.
    Light and reflector checks include:
    Clearance lights (red on rear, amber elsewhere).
    Headlights (high and low beams).
    Turn signals.
    4-way flashers.
    Brake lights.
    Red reflectors (on rear) and amber reflectors (elsewhere).
    Pre Trip Inspection Brake Check

    Parking Brake Check (Pre Trip Inspection)

    Apply parking brake only and make sure it will hold the vehicle by shifting into a lower gear and gently pulling against the brake.

    Hydraulic Brake Check (Pre Trip Inspection)

    With the engine running, apply firm pressure to the service (foot) brake pedal and hold for five seconds. The brake pedal should not move (depress) during the five seconds.
    If equipped with a hydraulic brake reserve (backup) system, with the key off, depress the brake pedal and listen for the sound of the reserve system electric motor.
    Check that the warning buzzer and/or light is off.
    Check the service (foot) brake operation by moving the vehicle forward slowly (about 5 mph) and apply the brake firmly. Note any vehicle “pulling” to one side, unusual feel or delayed stopping action.

    Air Brake Check (air brake equipped vehicles only) (Pre Trip Inspection)

    Air brake safety devices vary. However, this procedure is designed to see that any safety device operates correctly as air pressure drops from normal to a low air condition. For safety purposes, in areas where an incline is present, you will need to use wheel chocks during the air brake check. The proper procedures for inspecting the air brake system are as follows:

    Test Air Leakage Rate (Static check) (Pre Trip Inspection)

    With a fully-charged air system (typically 120 psi), turn off the engine, chock the wheels, release (push in) the parking brake button (all vehicles) and trailer air supply button (for combination vehicles) and time the air pressure drop. After the initial pressure drop, the loss rate should be no more than 2 psi in one minute for single vehicles and no more than 3 psi in one minute for combination vehicles.

    Test Air Brake System for Leaks (Pre Trip Inspection)

    With parking brake, (all vehicles) and trailer air supply button (for combination vehicles) released (pushed in), apply firm pressure to the service brake pedal. Watch the air supply gauge and listen for leaks. After the initial pressure drop, the loss rate for single vehicles should be no more than 3 psi in one minute and no more than 4 psi in one minute for combination vehicles. If the air loss rate exceeds these figures, have the air system repaired before operating.

    Test Low Pressure Warning Alarm and/or Signal (Pre Trip Inspection)

    Turn the key to the on position. Rapidly apply and release the service brake pedal to reduce air tank pressure. The low air pressure warning signal must come on before the pressure drops to less than 60 psi in the air tank. If the warning alarm/signal doesn’t work, you could be losing air pressure without knowing it. This could cause the spring brakes to activate suddenly. Only limited braking can be done before the spring brakes come on.

    Check That the Spring Brakes Come on Automatically.
    Continue to rapidly apply and release the service brake pedal to further reduce air tank pressure. The trailer air supply button (if it is a combination vehicle) and parking brake button should pop out when the air pressure falls to the manufacturer’s specification (usually between 20 to 40 psi). This causes the spring brakes to come on.

    Check Rate of Air Pressure Buildup (Pre Trip Inspection)

    When the engine is operating at 1800 RPM, the pressure should build from 85 to 100 psi within 45 seconds in dual air systems. (If the vehicle has larger than minimum air tanks, the buildup time can be longer and still be safe. Check the manufacturer’s specifications.) If air pressure does not build up fast enough, your pressure may drop too low during driving, requiring an emergency stop. Don’t drive until you get the problem fixed.

    Test Service Brakes (Pre Trip Inspection)

    Wait for normal air pressure, release the parking brake and trailer air supply button (for combination vehicles), move the vehicle forward slowly (about 5 mph), and apply the brakes firmly using the brake pedal. Note any vehicle “pulling” to one side, unusual feel, or delayed stopping action. This test may show you problems which you otherwise wouldn’t know about until you needed the brakes on the road.

    External Components Pre Trip Inspection (Passenger Bus/Truck/Tractor)

    STEERING (Pre Trip Inspection)

    Steering Box/Hoses
    Check that the steering box is securely mounted and not leaking. Look for any missing nuts, bolts, and cotter keys. Check for power steering fluid leaks or damage to power steering hoses.

    Steering Linkage
    See that connecting links, arms, and rods from the steering box to the wheel are not worn or cracked.
    Check that joints and sockets are not worn or loose and that there are no missing nuts, bolts, or cotter keys.

    SUSPENSION (Pre Trip Inspection)

    Look for missing, shifted, cracked, or broken leaf springs.
    Look for broken or distorted coil springs.
    If the vehicle is equipped with torsion bars, torque arms, or other types of suspension components, check that they are not damaged and are mounted securely.
    Air ride suspension should be checked for damage and leaks.

    Look for cracked or broken spring hangers, missing or damaged bushings, and broken, loose, or missing bolts, U-bolts or other axle mounting parts. (The mounts should be checked at each point where they are secured to the vehicle frame and axle(s)). This includes mounts used for air ride systems.

    Shock Absorbers

    See that shock absorbers are secure and that there are no leaks.

    BRAKES (Pre Trip Inspection)

    Slack Adjusters

    Look for broken, loose, or missing parts.
    The angle between the push rod and adjuster arm should be a little over 90 degrees when the brakes are released, and not less than 90 degrees when the brakes are applied.
    When pulled by hand, the brake rod should not move more than one inch (with the brakes released).

    Brake Chambers

    See that brake chambers are not leaking, cracked, or dented and are mounted securely.
    Brake Hoses/Lines

    Look for cracked, worn, or leaking hoses, lines, and couplings.
    Drum Brake or Rotor

    Check for cracks, dents, or holes. Also check for loose or missing bolts.
    Brake linings or pads (where visible) should not be worn dangerously thin.
    Brake Linings

    On some brake drums, there are openings where the brake linings can be seen from outside the drum. For this type of drum, check that a visible amount of brake lining is showing.
    WHEELS (Pre Trip Inspection)

    Check for damaged or bent rims. Rims cannot have welding repairs.

    The following items must be inspected on every tire:
    Tread depth: Check for minimum tread depth (4/32 on steering axle tires, 2/32 on all other tires).
    Tire condition: Check that tread is evenly worn and look for cuts or other damage to tread or sidewalls. Also, make sure valve caps and stems are not missing, broken, or damaged.
    Tire inflation: Check for proper inflation by using a tire gauge, or inflation by striking tires with a mallet or other similar device.

    Hub Oil Seals/Axle Seals

    See that hub oil/grease seals and axle seals are not leaking and, if wheel has a sight glass, oil level is adequate.

    Lug Nuts

    Check that all lug nuts are present, free of cracks and distortions, and show no signs of looseness such as rust trails or shiny threads.
    Make sure all bolt holes are not cracked or distorted.

    If equipped, check that spacers are not bent, damaged, or rusted through.
    Spacers should be evenly centered, with the dual wheels and tires evenly separated.

    SIDE OF VEHICLE (Pre Trip Inspection)


    Check that door(s) are not damaged and that they open and close properly from the outside.
    Hinges should be secure with seals intact.
    Check that mirror(s) and mirror brackets are not damaged and are mounted securely with no loose fittings.
    Fuel Tank

    Check that tank(s) are secure, cap(s) are tight, and there are no leaks from tank(s) or lines.


    Wherever located, see that battery(s) are secure, connections are tight, and cell caps are present.
    Battery connections should not show signs of excessive corrosion.
    Battery box and cover or door must be secure.

    Drive Shaft

    See that drive shaft is not bent or cracked.
    Couplings should be secure and free of foreign objects.

    Exhaust System

    Check system for damage and signs of leaks such as rust or carbon soot. System should be connected tightly and mounted securely.


    Look for cracks, broken welds, holes or other damage to the longitudinal frame members, cross members, box, and floor.

    REAR OF VEHICLE (Pre Trip Inspection)

    Splash Guards

    If equipped, check that splash guards or mud flaps are not damaged and are mounted securely.


    Check that doors and hinges are not damaged and that they open, close, and latch properly from the outside, if equipped.
    Ties, straps, chains, and binders must also be secure.
    If equipped with a cargo lift, look for leaking, damaged or missing parts.
    Lift must be fully retracted and latched securely.
    TRACTOR/COUPLING (Pre Trip Inspection)

    Air/Electric Lines

    Listen for air leaks. Check that air hoses and electrical lines are not cut, chafed, spliced, or worn (steel braid should not show through).
    Make sure air and electrical lines are not tangled, pinched, or dragging against tractor parts.

    Make sure the catwalk is solid, clear of objects, and securely bolted to tractor frame.

    Mounting Bolts

    Look for loose or missing mounting brackets, clamps, bolts, or nuts. Both the fifth wheel and the slide mounting must be solidly attached.
    On other types of coupling systems (i.e., ball hitch, pintle hook, tow bars, tow bar eye, etc.), inspect all coupling components and mounting brackets for missing or broken parts.

    Locking Jaws

    Look into fifth wheel gap and check that locking jaws are fully closed around the kingpin.

    On other types of coupling systems (i.e., ball hitch, pintle hook, etc.), inspect the locking mechanism for missing or broken parts and make sure it is locked securely. If present, safety cables or chains must be secure and free of kinks and excessive slack (locking pin, safety latch, chains and brackets).

    Platform (fifth wheel)

    Check for cracks or breaks in the platform structure which supports the fifth wheel skid plate.

    Release Arm (fifth wheel)

    If equipped, make sure the release arm is in the engaged position and the safety latch is in place.


    Check that the kingpin is not bent.
    Make sure the visible part of the apron is not bent, cracked, or broken.
    Check that the trailer is laying flat on the fifth wheel skid plate (no gap).

    Locking Pins (fifth wheel)

    If equipped, look for loose or missing pins in the slide mechanism of the sliding fifth wheel. If air powered, check for leaks.
    Make sure locking pins are fully engaged.
    Check that the fifth wheel is positioned properly so the tractor frame will clear the landing gear and the tractor will not strike the trailer during turns.

    Trailer Pre Trip Inspection

    Air/Electrical Connections

    Check that trailer air connectors are sealed and in good condition.
    Make sure glad hands are locked in place, free of damage or air leaks.
    Make sure the trailer electrical plug is firmly seated and locked in place.

    Header Board

    If equipped, check the header board to see that it is secure, free of damage, and strong enough to contain cargo.
    If equipped, the canvas or tarp carrier must be mounted and fastened securely.
    On enclosed trailers, check the front area for signs of damage such as cracks, bulges, or holes.

    SIDE OF TRAILER (Pre Trip Inspection)

    Landing Gear

    Check that the landing gear is fully raised, has no missing parts, crank handle is secure, and the support frame is not damaged.
    If power operated, check for air or hydraulic leaks.


    If equipped, check that doors are not damaged. Check that doors open, close, and latch properly from the outside.
    Check that ties, straps, chains, and binders are secure.
    If equipped with a cargo lift, look for leaking, damaged or missing parts.
    Lift should be fully retracted and latched securely.


    Look for cracks, broken welds, holes or other damage to the frame, cross members, box, and floor.

    Tandem Release Arm/Locking Pins

    If equipped, make sure the locking pins are locked in place and release arm is secured.

    REMAINDER OF TRAILER (Pre Trip Inspection)

    Please refer to the previous sections for detailed inspection procedures regarding the following components:

    Suspension system.
    Splash Guards.

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