Pre-Trip Inspections

Common Problems Often Overlooked on Pre-Trip Inspections

One of the things a Safety Manager does is participate in industry events like the annual truck driving championships. This year I got to judge the pre-trip competition for straight truck class. The results below indicate that the top drivers are the ones who know how to properly inspect a vehicle.

For those who are not familiar with the how event works, I’ll provide a little background. Each of the various classes of vehicles (straight truck, 3, 4 & 5-axle tractor/trailer, doubles, tanker or flatbed) is "staged" with various "major" or "minor" problems. For example, this year’s straight truck problems included a faulty seatbelt, missing reflective triangle, debris on cab floor (golf balls), loose gas cap, even a rubber chicken tucked up between the left dual drive tires! Each driver is timed and given 6:00 minutes to circle the vehicle, call out "defect" and describe it as they are discovered. Drivers are given credit for each defect they find that is listed on the judge’s score sheet.

Just about every driver found most of the defects but I was simply flabbergasted at how many good drivers missed the most obvious and treacherous of all the defects – wheel seal and engine leaks! Even though puddles of oil and lube had been blatantly splashed and poured on the ground under the engine, the left lift gate hydraulic cylinder and onto the right drive wheel hub dripping onto the ground, less than 25% of the drivers spotted these hazards.


I discovered that even many of the good drivers fail to detect this type of hazard while doing their inspection because they stare and gaze at the truck or the truck component – but fail to inspect the ground underneath! This should be done as the driver first approaches the vehicle and throughout their entire circle check. This includes not just at pre/post trip inspection time, but every time the driver approaches the vehicle before getting in and driving.

You are responsible for your vehicle’s maintenance!