Truck Inspections by Commerical Drivers

Safety Increases with Pre- and Post-Trip Truck Inspections

Anyone who drives a motor vehicle has a responsibility to make sure that its in good mechanical working order, especially for safety equipment. We wouldn’t go driving with a flat tire, either due to the safety problems it would present or the simple fact we’d likely cause damage to the vehicle. When truck drivers hit the road, however, they’re taking the wheel of a massive, challenging to control vehicle — one that may weigh as much as forty times what a typical passenger vehicle does. The responsibility of safely driving such a vehicle on roads with other people around carries with it a much greater duty to inspect the vehicle both before and after trips — a duty that is specifically called for in laws and regulations. When a truck accident occurs and causes injuries or deaths, an experienced personal injury attorney will be careful to verify that the truck driver performed all mandated inspections before proceeding onto public roads.

Required Truck Inspections by Drivers

Roadside commercial vehicle inspection stations are a common sight on major freeways. Generally, they are operated by either the state police or state transportation departments, depending upon jurisdiction. But an even more frequent type of inspection is performed — or is supposed to be performed — by truck drivers upon their own vehicles. The Code of Federal Regulations contains requirements for truck drivers to inspect, report, and follow specific rules related to their vehicle. These requirements, as regulated by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) require that drivers of commercial motor vehicles inspect their vehicles and complete a report at the end of each day. The inspection must include at least:

  • Hand brakes, service brakes, and trailer brakes.
  • Steering mechanism, wheels, wheel rims, and tires.
  • Reflectors, lights, and emergency equipment.
  • Windows, wipers, and mirrors.

Any problem that is found must be documented and reported, and the trucking carrier is obligated to take the vehicle out of service until the problem is fixed. The driver of a passenger commercial vehicle like a bus is required to submit an inspection report after every trip, whether problems are found or not. Drivers of cargo-carrying commercial vehicles are required to inspect and document their findings but are only required to submit a report if a safety defect is found.

Drivers are likewise obligated to inspect vehicles before they operate them, checking these same systems, and verifying that any repairs necessary for a vehicle that had been taken out of service have been fixed.  These daily inspections are all separate from and in addition to periodic inspections required to be performed by the trucking carriers.

Importance for Truck Accident Litigation

Due to their size, challenging handling characteristics, and enormous momentum when moving at highway speeds, trucks that are involved in accidents often present significant challenges for accident reconstruction — they can move a very significant distance, hit many vehicles or other objects, and cause a great deal of damage in the time between when something sparks the accident and when the truck finally comes to rest. An experienced personal injury attorney will have the knowledge, resources, and expert consultants needed to thoroughly investigate the truck’s operating systems to determine if safety defects may have contributed to causing the accident, and a complete review of the driver’s documented inspections of that vehicle will often show if a problem was found or if the required inspections were never carried out.

View this video describing the many parts and systems of a truck that should be inspected before and after every trip:

Local Truck Accident Attorneys

Hello, I’m Ed Smith, a Truck Accident Attorney in Sacramento. Federal and state laws have numerous and stringent requirements for the inspection of commercial vehicle like large trucks – considering the damage that such a vehicle can cause when a device required for safe operation suddenly fails makes it clear why these inspection requirements exist. An experienced personal injury attorney knows to look for evidence of improper or missed inspections. If you or a member of your family has been injured as a result of a truck accident, please contact us today at (916) 921-6400 or (800) 404-5400 for free, friendly advice. You can also reach us through our online contact form.

We are proud to be members of the National Association of Distinguished Counsel and the Million Dollar Advocates Forum.

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