One of the best ways to keep your fleet vehicles safe and in good working order while they’re on the road is by implementing a post-trip inspection checklist.
Having your drivers take a few minutes at the end of their trip to inspect the vehicle’s major systems can help your fleet preserve the condition of — and prolong the use of — some of its most valuable assets.
In this article, we discuss the most important components to include on your post-trip inspection checklist as well as some optional ones that can make your form even better.
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Modern Post-Trip Inspection Checklists
Evolution Of The Post-Trip Inspection Checklist
It’s only been in the past decade or so that the post-trip inspection checklist has evolved into the modern age of computers and mobile devices. Before that, the inspection often required a clipboard, the form in question, and a pen or pencil.
Now, modern post-trip inspection checklists come in digital format, and drivers can access and fill out the form on a smartphone, tablet, laptop, or other mobile device.
In many cases, computerized versions of the form also interface with electronic logging devices and other telematics installed on the vehicle to make the inspection even easier.
Basics Of The Modern Post-Trip Inspection Checklist
Most modern post-trip inspection checklists include the major systems of the vehicle in question.
Checking these systems at the end of a run ensures that the vehicle is safe to pilot and doesn’t have a small problem that could develop into a big problem the next time a driver takes it out.
Not only are these inspections essential for keeping your fleet operationally sound, but they’re also required by law.
As you’ll see in the next section, there are a number of standard checks a driver should perform at the end of a run, but the total number of steps you include on your checklist largely depends on the type of vehicles you operate and the condition and needs of your commercial fleet.
For example, if the driver will be operating a work van or work truck that won’t be pulling a trailer, you should create a vehicle-specific inspection checklist that doesn’t include such items as coupling system and trailer condition.
At the very least, you could make those items conditional on how the vehicle will be used that day.
If, on the other hand, the driver will be operating a semi (a tractor and trailer), you’ll want to create a vehicle-specific inspection checklist that does include an examination of the coupling system and trailer condition.
How thorough you ask your drivers to be depends, in large part, on the demands of your industry and the needs of your business.
It’s also important to keep in mind that many of the items on a post-trip checklist will be examined again the next time you schedule the vehicle for use, so you may not need your drivers to inspect all the systems that they would during a pre-trip inspection.
What To Include On A Post-Trip Inspection Checklist
The items included in the list below are the minimum requirements for a post-trip checklist. If you want to be even more thorough, you can include other items on your form as well.
1) Driver ID And Vehicle ID (Optional)
You may choose to include this checklist on the same form as the pre-trip inspection checklist. Many digital forms are set up this way — the pre-trip and post-trip inspections are bundled together in the same file.
In that case, the driver will have already filled in their ID and the vehicle ID (that’s why we marked this section optional).
If your drivers are using a separate form (either paper or digital), they should always fill in their ID and the vehicle ID first so those reading the finished checklist later on know who did the inspection and which vehicle was being inspected.
Including the odometer reading at the end of the run is important for tracking mileage and fuel costs and for monitoring unauthorized vehicle activity between scheduled use.
Odometer readings from pre- and post-trip inspection checklists also help you create and maintain effective preventative maintenance schedules for your entire fleet.
If the system is functioning properly, applying minimal pressure to the pedal will engage the brakes and activate the brake lights on the rear of the vehicle and on the rear of the trailer (if the vehicle is hooked up to one).
If the brake lights don’t light up, there may be an electrical issue or the trailer system may not be properly attached.
If the brake pedal has too much travel, there may be a hydraulic fluid leak somewhere in the system.
4) Windshield Wipers
Drivers should start the vehicle and verify that the windshield wipers activate when turned on and that they speed up or slow down depending on the settings the driver chooses.
It can also be useful to test the wipers on a wet windshield to see if the blades contact the glass and move the water effectively.
5) Emergency Equipment
This part of the checklist includes an inspection of all vehicle and driver emergency equipment, including:
- Spare tire
- Lug wrench
- Jumper cables
- Reflective triangles
- Extra coolant and engine oil
- Fire extinguisher
- First aid kit
- Personal protective equipment (PPE)
Your vehicles may not include all these items — or they may include more — but each one should be securely stored in its proper place.
Though this system may seem unimportant compared to things like brakes and steering, the vehicle’s horn can warn other drivers and prevent accidents from occurring.
Make sure that your drivers verify that the horn works properly before they leave your property or continue their trip.
At the end of every run, your drivers should check the condition of all the mirrors on the vehicle. Have them look for cracks, chips, or breaks in the reflective surface or damage to the frame that attaches it to the vehicle.
All mirrors should be relatively easy to adjust and should stay in place once they’re set. If mirrors are adjustable from inside the cab of the vehicle, have drivers verify that the mirrors do, indeed, move when the controls are activated.
Make sure that all lights — headlights, hazard lights, taillights, marker lights, etc. — work and are in safe operating order.
Not only is this an easy way to keep your drivers and others on the road safe, but it’s also a legal requirement.
Operating a vehicle without the proper lights can result in fines and other citations that can hinder the operation of your fleet.
Inspect all the tires for excess wear, holes, tears, or protruding objects. This is also a good place on the checklist to check the tire pressure.
Proper tire inflation is an essential component of getting the most out of the tire itself, maintaining the life and safety of the vehicle, and improving fuel management.
An under-inflated tire increases the rolling resistance placed on the engine and forces it to use more fuel to maintain forward momentum. On an improperly inflated tire, you’ll fill up more often — and pay more — because the vehicle uses more fuel to get where it’s going.
Under-inflated tires can also cause excess vibrations that can loosen fasteners and cause wires and hoses to work loose (not to mention being uncomfortable for the drivers).
Checking the tire pressure and maintaining proper inflation is an easy and inexpensive way to prevent a long list of problems from developing in your vehicles.
While drivers are inspecting the tires and checking the air pressure, have them examine the wheels themselves for damage. Visually inspect the rims for rust, dents, bends, and other damage caused by road wear.
If wheels are covered by a hub cap, train drivers to look inside the cover (without removing it, of course) for damage or debris.
It can also be useful to have the driver inspect the interior of the wheels (the sides that face the engine and the vehicle frame), but this may not be feasible due to weather and ground conditions.
At the very least, include an inspection of the interior of the wheels as part of your regular preventative maintenance plan.
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