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    Pre-Trip Inspections Aren't Just About Safety

    February 27, 2017

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    Did you know Missouri mandates every carrier to require its drivers to complete a written Post-Trip Inspection Report? So, which comes first--the chicken or the egg? (The pre- or post-trip inspection, that is?) In the case of MoDOT, both. You see, part of the purpose of the pre-trip inspection is to make sure any defect noted in the last post-trip inspection was corrected. The same applies to owner operators with the obvious difference you are directly responsible for the repairs.

    Although pre-trip inspections are critical to keeping you and others safe, this blog is not about safety.  Rather, we'll be detailing how pre-trip inspections should be seen as good business practices--whether or not they're required. If doctors prescribed ice cream, many more people would take it. Our hope is if you see how inspections benefit you directly, they'll be just like prescription ice cream.

    Five Pre-Trip Inspection Points

    1. Service Brakes

    How many times, especially in cold weather, have you been stuck due to broken air lines? Sometimes these are an immediate result of a specific event, but often stress and fatigue can be seen in small cracks and/or discoloration of the lines at the flex point. Save yourself time and money by inspecting these daily. (And, by the way, use glad grips. If you don’t know what glad grips are, call us!)

    2. Steering Mechanism

    If your steering is not responsive due to kingpin seizure or other components binding, this is not only terribly unsafe, but it also will increase the wear on your steering tires. Have you bought tires lately?  Save yourself some bucks; make sure your steering is operating smoothly.

    3. Lights and Reflectors

    Lights and reflectors are minor expense items unless you have to buy them on the road in an emergency situation. Then your options are likely limited, and the costs can get out of control. Save yourself some money by keeping spare lights in your shop or in your truck tool box, and don’t hit the road with a non-working light. Don’t forget the dielectric grease when replacing lights. 

    4. Tires (Wheels/Rims)

    Tires are expensive, and a 5psi differential means scrubbing the low PSI tire 13ft/mile. Your hammer is not the right tool for this job. Do yourself a favor, and use a good gauge. 

    • Running with improper pressure can lower tire life by as much as 50%. Underinflated and overinflated tires are a significant reason for blow-outs and crashes. Again, a hammer isn’t good enough--not for you, not for your family or mine, and not for your wallet. 
    • The cost of replacing tires on the side of the road is much higher than keeping them maintained and replacing them from your normal supplier. 
    • The question of what pressure to run can be best addressed by your tire supplier. Be sure to let them know the conditions you're running in; temperature and load weight are huge factors in determining optimum pressure. 
    • If you're always losing air, you may have a cracked wheel. It's certainly better to find that out at home than on the road. 
    • Tire Pressure Monitoring Systems (TPMS) are a good idea. There are many types available, and we can help you determine what's best for you.

    5. Emergency Equipment

    Fire extinguishers and flares aren't that expensive and can save you so much money--or even your life--in the case of an emergency.

    Pre-trip/post-trip inspections can save you large amounts of money and time. On-the-road repairs and breakdowns are very costly. Preventable accidents waste money and could cause unnecessary injury. It’s not only for safety and to appease the DOT; it's for your bottom line. Take a little time, save some money... and go buy some ice cream.

    For more information about MoDOT inspection requirements and other regulations, download the Missouri Trucking Guide.