Pre Trip- What Is The DOT Requirement

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Rob T.'s Comment
member avatar

Editor's Note: We have a fantastic Pre-Trip Inspection Study Guide so check that out!

On a different thread a member said his trainer told him logging 5 minutes for pre trip is ok. Others chimed in saying DOT requires 15 minutes logged. My company requires a minimum of 8 minutes logged. So I gotta know, is there a DOT requirement for logging? By moving the truck you're acknowledging that the vehicle is safe to operate and free of defects. I'm sure if you dont show hardly any time on pre/post trip theyll inspect a little more closely but is there a set minimum DOT requires it logged?

Pre-trip Inspection:

A pre-trip inspection is a thorough inspection of the truck completed before driving for the first time each day.

Federal and state laws require that drivers inspect their vehicles. Federal and state inspectors also may inspect your vehicles. If they judge a vehicle to be unsafe, they will put it “out of service” until it is repaired.

DOT:

Department Of Transportation

A department of the federal executive branch responsible for the national highways and for railroad and airline safety. It also manages Amtrak, the national railroad system, and the Coast Guard.

State and Federal DOT Officers are responsible for commercial vehicle enforcement. "The truck police" you could call them.

Bruce K.'s Comment
member avatar

Hey Rob,

That was me that made the comment about 5 minutes. Your question is a good one, so I'll clarify my previous comment. My trainer said that we needed at least 5 minutes when we changed our duty status on the MCP HOS tab. His instruction was not aimed specifically at the pre-trip, but my takeaway was that I needed to show the 5 minutes before I could start moving. Not that I can do a decent pre-trip in 5 minutes, but I do my pre-trip while I'm "stretching my legs" after my 10 hr DOT break. Just trying to kill one stone with two birds. I started doing this to save some clock time for driving and finding a parking spot at the end of the day without going into panic mode. At some point, I might get talked to about this and if so, I'll have to mend my ways. I'm just counting on this not being punishable by death, LOL.

Good question, though. I'm interested to see what the comments are.

DOT:

Department Of Transportation

A department of the federal executive branch responsible for the national highways and for railroad and airline safety. It also manages Amtrak, the national railroad system, and the Coast Guard.

State and Federal DOT Officers are responsible for commercial vehicle enforcement. "The truck police" you could call them.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Errol V.'s Comment
member avatar

Short answer: enough time to properly inspect your vehicle. A written report, the Daily Vehicle Inspection Report (DVIR) needs to be signed off by the driver at the end of a shift, and by the next day's driver. The regs go into detail about what needs to be inspected. In reality a good inspection probably does take half an hour.

I've heard (this phrase needs several grains of salt taken with it) that a court judge can ask a driver to actually complete a pre-trip in the 5 minutes the driver logged.

Section § 396.11: Driver vehicle inspection report(s)

Viking's Comment
member avatar

From what I've gleaned from actually reading the regulations there is no mandated minimum time that must be spent according to the DOT. Your company may have a minimum and I believe I heard somewhere certain states expect a minimum (heresay) but believe the 15 min minimum is a carry over from paper logs when 15 mins was the shortest duty status block you could log.

Also Bruce I understand why your doing it that way, but technically that is considered falsifying your logbook. Might be hard to prove unless you tell a dot officer what your doing but yeah.

good-luck.gif

Logbook:

A written or electronic record of a driver's duty status which must be maintained at all times. The driver records the amount of time spent driving, on-duty not driving, in the sleeper berth, or off duty. The enforcement of the Hours Of Service Rules (HOS) are based upon the entries put in a driver's logbook.

DOT:

Department Of Transportation

A department of the federal executive branch responsible for the national highways and for railroad and airline safety. It also manages Amtrak, the national railroad system, and the Coast Guard.

State and Federal DOT Officers are responsible for commercial vehicle enforcement. "The truck police" you could call them.

Rick S.'s Comment
member avatar

Actually - there isn't a "published rule" in 49CFR396 that I could find, that specifies a "minimum amount of time" that has to be logged for a pre-trip. It does have to be logged as "On Duty Not Driving".

The issue with logging a 5 minute pre-trip might be (if you get inspected): how good of a pre-trip could you ACTUALLY DO, in 5 minutes?

Pre and Post trips are two different activities, and while you might do a post trip and check EVERYTHING that gets checked on a pre-trip, there may be things that happen on your 10 hour break (tire goes flat, etc.), that would make it a good idea to at least do a walkaround and tire thump, before rolling out.

Many companies (from what I hear), want you to log 15 minutes, because it shows you might have actually taken the time to do decent one.

But again - from what I see, there is not SPECIFIC TIME that has to be logged under the rules, just that IT MUST BE LOGGED.

Rick

Turtle's Comment
member avatar

I was told by our logs department that the record time for a pre trip is 8.5 minutes. They want us to show a minimum of 10-12 minutes. If you're showing 5 minutes for a pretrip, better be prepared to prove it to an officer, should he ask.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Rick S.'s Comment
member avatar

I was told by our logs department that the record time for a pre trip is 8.5 minutes. They want us to show a minimum of 10-12 minutes. If you're showing 5 minutes for a pretrip, better be prepared to prove it to an officer, should he ask.

You used to be required to keep a copy of your DVIR (Driver Vehicle Inspection Report), but a rule change dropped the requirement to keep it (2014), if there were no defects found. Not sure how this was even done, once everyone went off paper logs. On paper logs, the DVIR was on the back of the daily log (or sometimes kept in a separate DVIR book altogether).

Rick

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Bruce K.'s Comment
member avatar

Pre and Post trips are two different activities, and while you might do a post trip and check EVERYTHING that gets checked on a pre-trip, there may be things that happen on your 10 hour break (tire goes flat, etc.), that would make it a good idea to at least do a walkaround and tire thump, before rolling out.

Rick, what you said (above) is, to me, an excellent point for several reasons. 1) The easiest inspection to do is the post trip. After a long day of driving, I need to get out of the cab and move my legs or they tend to cramp up when I get into the bunk. This takes me 15 to 30 minutes at the end of my day. When I do this, I can then do a morning pre-trip in 5 minutes because it's just what you say, a "walkaround and tire thump". 2) The morning walkaround is critical to make sure some idiot didn't pull your 5th wheel release handle or tandem release handle overnight. This has never happened to me, but I've been warned and have heard the stories. NEVER get out of your bunk and start driving without checking these things. This is something where paranoia is healthy and may save your career. 3) Even though I may log in 5 minutes for a pre-trip, it really takes at least 15 minutes to do a decent one, so please don't think I'm advocating an actual 5 minute pre-trip.

Tandem:

Tandem Axles

A set of axles spaced close together, legally defined as more than 40 and less than 96 inches apart by the USDOT. Drivers tend to refer to the tandem axles on their trailer as just "tandems". You might hear a driver say, "I'm 400 pounds overweight on my tandems", referring to his trailer tandems, not his tractor tandems. Tractor tandems are generally just referred to as "drives" which is short for "drive axles".

Rob T.'s Comment
member avatar

I slip seat trucks daily so the first thing I do when I'm logging into the truck is check the DVIR book to make me aware of any issues the previous driver noted. The mechanic is required to sign off on it so I ensure a mechanic has signed off if any were listed then I pay more attention to that area during pre trip. My pre trips usually take about 15-20 minutes and post trips about 15. Unfortunately theres plenty of drivers who dont even bother opening the hood, or doing anything other than light and tire check. Drives me crazy so I make dang sure the vehicle is up to standards before I leave. After all, it's my butt on the line if the truck has defects and I roll with it.

Bud E.'s Comment
member avatar

Understand that by law the trucking company must keep all log entries a minimum of 6 months. In case of a lawsuit every entry is admissible by a plaintiff's lawyer and you will be questioned on them. So if you do a 104 point pre-trip in 5 minutes according to your log rest assured you will have to show the jury how you do the pre-trip in 5 minutes.

Also understand that every pre-trip you log is completed in "whatever time", regardless of weather conditions, time of day, location, etc. will be examined by a jury. Vary your times. 18 minutes one day, 20 another, 16,19, etc. That way it looks like you are actually doing them.

Dm:

Dispatcher, Fleet Manager, Driver Manager

The primary person a driver communicates with at his/her company. A dispatcher can play many roles, depending on the company's structure. Dispatchers may assign freight, file requests for home time, relay messages between the driver and management, inform customer service of any delays, change appointment times, and report information to the load planners.
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