Pre Trip- What Is The DOT Requirement

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Marc Lee's Comment
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I'm just counting on this not being punishable by death, LOL.

As if a bunch of short hauls and long waits wouldn't be punishment enough!

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Robsteeler's Comment
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The only thing I don't do is pump my brakes. Especially with how loud they are on the new truck. I'd be getting a beat down the first time I did that at 0330. 😂 But there's absolutely NO WAY I'm pulling out without making sure some nice person didn't pull my 5th wheel while I slept. My inspection takes maybe ten minutes or so. So I usually make coffee while I wait. I'm just being realistic. I don't think anyone does a real pre-trip the way DOT wants it done.

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.

G-Town's Comment
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Errol wrote this earlier today:

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)

You guys really should reread Errol’s reply to the 5-minute remark made by Bruce, from earlier today...and also look at the link.

I’ll reiterate what he said; a proper and thorough pretrip will require about 30 minutes. That too is about my experience, certainly no less than 20. If all you ever log is 15 minutes every time, eventually you will run into a problem. Change it up.

The industry standard is highlighted; BOLD in the beginning of Errol’s response...

Bruce K.'s Comment
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G-Town, you are completely right about my 5 minute pre-trip comment. I hope no one thought that I was advocating a 5 minute pre-trip. I know a thorough pre-trip takes longer than that and I do one that takes 15 to 20 minutes for me, on average.

What is your pre-trip procedure?

G-Town's Comment
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G-Town, you are completely right about my 5 minute pre-trip comment. I hope no one thought that I was advocating a 5 minute pre-trip. I know a thorough pre-trip takes longer than that and I do one that takes 15 to 20 minutes for me, on average.

What is your pre-trip procedure?

I did not think that...just a reference.

My procedure is a bit different because when I go on duty the tractor is parked a 1/4 mile or so from either wet-side reefer loads or dry-side dry van loads.

I pretrip the tractor, takes me about 15-17 minutes. “Pretrip” is entered in the comment for my log entry. Send the macro 1, (arrive at shipper).

Drive to get the trailer, log-on duty taking myself off the drive line, couple up and pretrip the trailer. Trailer is 10-12 min for dry van, about 12-15 min for a reefer. Send macro 2 (loaded call) and enter my load tab. I focus a lot of time on tires/wheels (especially the steers) and brakes/air hoses, leaky seals. I will also push and pull things to make sure nothing has loosened up/ that everything is tight & snug like mirrors, grills, skirts and fairings. I always pop the hood, looking for leaks, worn belts, etc. Special attention is always given to the trailer coupling itself and trailer springs (found several broken leaf springs over the years). I do not shortcut anything. 5 extra minutes here can safe hours waiting on the side of a road.

In winter it takes me longer to perform the pretrip because I’m looking for things that are more likely to fail in the freezing cold when extreme temperature swings occur.

During the course of my day, if doubled-up it’s possible to be under 4-5 different trailers, each requiring a pretrip.

Shipper:

The customer who is shipping the freight. This is where the driver will pick up a load and then deliver it to the receiver or consignee.

Dry Van:

A trailer or truck that that requires no special attention, such as refrigeration, that hauls regular palletted, boxed, or floor-loaded freight. The most common type of trailer in trucking.

Reefer:

A refrigerated trailer.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.

OOS:

When a violation by either a driver or company is confirmed, an out-of-service order removes either the driver or the vehicle from the roadway until the violation is corrected.

G-Town's Comment
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When I have a bit more time later I’ll list a few other things I do that are different, and a list of things I’ve found during a PTI.

Errol V.'s Comment
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Keep this in mind: your daily pretrip does not include all the talk you did for your CDL test - "This is my alternator securely mounted no dents bends or breaks no broken wires blah blah". That verbal pretrip will take neatly 45 minutes or more.

Your real, daily pretrip will be you mostly visually checking all those things, and you don't have to babble on, just make sure everything is good to go. (And that nobody has pulled your trailer release overnight!) This will fit into the 15 minute block.

Also, if you do make this a habit, it makes a nice mediation/ "constitutional" walk to start your day.

(Thanks for the reference, G-Town).

CDL:

Commercial Driver's License (CDL)

A CDL is required to drive any of the following vehicles:

  • Any combination of vehicles with a gross combined weight rating (GCWR) of 26,001 or more pounds, providing the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of the vehicle being towed is in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any single vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 or more pounds, or any such vehicle towing another not in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any vehicle, regardless of size, designed to transport 16 or more persons, including the driver.
  • Any vehicle required by federal regulations to be placarded while transporting hazardous materials.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Marc Lee's Comment
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When I have a bit more time later I’ll list a few other things I do that are different, and a list of things I’ve found during a PTI.

Thanks "G". Just curious... we did something similar @ Target... pre-trip the tractor (before starting), then log in, on-duty to drive 200 yards or so to office... idle/warm truck, office stuff, get load assignments, on duty to get to trailer, pre-trip (rig) selected once coupled. On duty again until security cleared, load and route entered, then drive line.

Was your only "pre-trip" note a log entry?

I think my trainer was doing it this way (if I recall it correctly) to both make sure cab is good to start, cab is good to roll, trailer (and the combo) are good to go while maximizing clock. I think we this show about 10-15 min. of pre-trip but I think it only shows up as one, once coupled.

Is there anything wrong with this? Log doesn't really show how and when we do the various inspections though it does reflect most (but possibly not all) of the time. Adjusting drinks, lunch, straightening up cab, etc., probably match most of the initial cab pre's... just looks like we did it all at once... like if we woke up in the cab with the trailer already coupled.

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Bruce K.'s Comment
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One thing that hasn't been specifically mentioned yet is the Tug Test. Everyone does one (I hope) after coupling to a trailer to assure against an accidental disconnect. But a Tug Test should be part of every pre-trip. One of the quickest and easiest parts of PTI, but easily overlooked.

Rob T.'s Comment
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One thing that hasn't been specifically mentioned yet is the Tug Test. Everyone does one (I hope) after coupling to a trailer to assure against an accidental disconnect. But a Tug Test should be part of every pre-trip. One of the quickest and easiest parts of PTI, but easily overlooked.

Very good point Bruce! 3 weeks ago I had 2 different instances where I connected to a trailer and heard it latch. I did the tug test as I always do and then got out to inspect the release handle was in the locked position, as well as the jaws fully enclosed around the kingpin. Well it's a good thing i did that, the handle was out about halfway and jaws werent fully around kingpin. I'd hate to think what could have happened had I not noticed. My employer has a policy that if we drop a trailer or have an accident with 10k in damage whether I'm at fault or not I will receive a nice weeklong unpaid vacation. Even a trace of alcohol in our system if tested will result in 30 days unpaid suspension.

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Pre-trip inspection (PTI) Understanding The Laws
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