Pre Trip- What Is The DOT Requirement

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Rick S.'s Comment
member avatar

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.

You should (obviously) to a tug test, visually inspect release handle (in place and locked) and kingpin jaws EVERY TIME YOU COUPLE. And probably every time you stop (to make sure some yahoo didn't pull your handle for funnies). Probably not a bad idea to check the jaws are locked and handle locked and set during a pre-trip.

It's also a good thing (when you park) to pop the trailer brakes (not diverging into "do you set your trailer brakes when parking), and pull forward to put pressure on the jaws (then pop your tractor brake), to prevent (or at least discourage) someone pulling your release handle.

I'm curious how many folks HERE actually GO UNDER the trailer and tug on the slack adjusters on all brake cylinders and visually inspect pad thickness EVERY TIME you couple or PTI? I know when you TEST, you are supposed to identify and check the slack on all your wheels (but not necessarily DEMONSTRATE IT to the testing official - but HOW MANY PEOPLE ACTUALLY CHECK THIS?

You can be sure, if you get a "pull around level I", the DOT Man will go into the pit and tug/measure EVERY ONE OF THEM...

Rick

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

Rob and Rick's comments brought this question to my mind: What is the most important piece of equipment to use for a pre-trip?

A bright flashlight! Even during daylight, it can be hard to see if the king pin locking bar is in place. Always have your flashlight when doing PTI. Brake linings, drums, hoses, etc. need good light for a proper inspection.

BTW, Harbor Freight has a great rechargeable, hand held spotlight that really works great for this. About 10 bucks. It recharges on 12V.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
G-Town's Comment
member avatar

Rob and Rick's comments brought this question to my mind: What is the most important piece of equipment to use for a pre-trip?

A bright flashlight! Even during daylight, it can be hard to see if the king pin locking bar is in place. Always have your flashlight when doing PTI. Brake linings, drums, hoses, etc. need good light for a proper inspection.

BTW, Harbor Freight has a great rechargeable, hand held spotlight that really works great for this. About 10 bucks. It recharges on 12V.

I agree with this statement.

I have a flashlight that fits in a belt holster. The lens focus is adjustable; varying from wide to pinpoint. No matter the time of day, KingPin and the fully engaged lock is highly visible.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Rick S.'s Comment
member avatar

double-quotes-start.png

Rob and Rick's comments brought this question to my mind: What is the most important piece of equipment to use for a pre-trip?

A bright flashlight! Even during daylight, it can be hard to see if the king pin locking bar is in place. Always have your flashlight when doing PTI. Brake linings, drums, hoses, etc. need good light for a proper inspection.

BTW, Harbor Freight has a great rechargeable, hand held spotlight that really works great for this. About 10 bucks. It recharges on 12V.

double-quotes-end.png

I agree with this statement.

I have a flashlight that fits in a belt holster. The lens focus is adjustable; varying from wide to pinpoint. No matter the time of day, KingPin and the fully engaged lock is highly visible.

I run a 2,000 lumen Klarus tactical light, in a belt holster. Aside from being brighter than the sun (almost), it also has 4 brightness modes and a strobe mode. It charges off a USB charge port (truck or plug-in usb charger).

As a defensive weapon, it will BLIND a potential attacker.

They're a little pricey (like $85 for a "combo kit" on Amazon), built like a tank, and will last forever - assuming you don't LOSE IT.

Rick

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Bruce K.'s Comment
member avatar

Rick said: "They're a little pricey (like $85 for a "combo kit" on Amazon), built like a tank, and will last forever - assuming you don't LOSE IT."

I know this thread is wandering a little, but isn't it amazing how a driver can lose things in the confined space of a sleeper cab tractor? Of course, I can always play the senior citizen card, but what excuses do you young guys have????????

PackRat's Comment
member avatar

Rick said: "They're a little pricey (like $85 for a "combo kit" on Amazon), built like a tank, and will last forever - assuming you don't LOSE IT."

I know this thread is wandering a little, but isn't it amazing how a driver can lose things in the confined space of a sleeper cab tractor? Of course, I can always play the senior citizen card, but what excuses do you young guys have????????

Imagine how much gear I misplace in my truck....?confused.gif “I know it’s around here somewhere” is something I mutter often.

G-Town's Comment
member avatar

Rick wrote a lot of good stuff here...

You should (obviously) to a tug test, visually inspect release handle (in place and locked) and kingpin jaws EVERY TIME YOU COUPLE. And probably every time you stop (to make sure some yahoo didn't pull your handle for funnies). Probably not a bad idea to check the jaws are locked and handle locked and set during a pre-trip.

Without saying. But that alone is not enough. A positive tug test is preliminary, it's still possible to be high-hooked. First of all, I G.O.A.L. before getting completely under the trailer; trailer is adjusted accordingly (usually lowered). Best defense against serious coupling problem! Second, I have my windows partially down as I complete the "coupling" maneuver so that I can hear the distinctive "click", usually confirmation of a positive coupling. I then shimmy under the trailer just ahead of the landing gear, shining my flashlight between the wings of the fifth-wheel to ensure the lock-bar completely surrounds the KingPin. The KingPin release lever is also checked visually and physically (as per Rob Ts instructions). This process is repeated for every hooking event, without fail, rain or shine. PLEASE do not skip any of these steps.

It's also a good thing (when you park) to pop the trailer brakes (not diverging into "do you set your trailer brakes when parking), and pull forward to put pressure on the jaws (then pop your tractor brake), to prevent (or at least discourage) someone pulling your release handle.

100% agree. Great work habit to start applying now.

I'm curious how many folks HERE actually GO UNDER the trailer and tug on the slack adjusters on all brake cylinders and visually inspect pad thickness EVERY TIME you couple or PTI? I know when you TEST, you are supposed to identify and check the slack on all your wheels (but not necessarily DEMONSTRATE IT to the testing official - but HOW MANY PEOPLE ACTUALLY CHECK THIS?

This is a great question. For me this is conditional on the amount of time transpired from the last trailer inspection date, age of the trailer and tire tread wear (Walmart has a "newer" trailer fleet, especially the reefers and they well maintained). If the inspection is within a couple of months of expiration date, I'll check all 4 push rods. On older trailers with a lot of tire wear, I will also check the slack. My madness is based on I know when Walmart replaces all 8 tires with new treads, they will also maintain brakes. And always check the inspection sticker to make sure it hasn't already expired or will expire while you are attached to it.

Reefer:

A refrigerated trailer.

Errol V.'s Comment
member avatar

Besides the federal law mandating your daily pretrip inspection, there's the main reason you need to check out your rig. To find problems before they become problems. I wrote a topic for years ago about this: Why Do A Pretrip?

And remember you don't really need to measure brake linings (1/4") or scan the frame for illegal welds and such on a daily basis. But belts do get wear, tire sides might get cut, power steering hoses could develop a bulge.

Do you think this could happen and you didn't notice? (You don't feel/ hear things back on those tandems.)

0759349001557939360.jpg

Tandems:

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".

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".

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Bruce K.'s Comment
member avatar

I had the fear put into me by one of my instructors telling me that someone pulled his 5th wheel release handle 3 times during his driving career. Plus a disconnect is an automatic termination at Schneider. The only exception is if the disconnect is due to mechanical failure. Actually, this happened recently to a driver. Fortunately it happened in a OC yard and was deemed a non-preventable.

But also check your tandem release handle every time you check your 5th wheel mechanisms. Some idiot can pull that, too. While it's not as serious, it's still serious.

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".

G-Town's Comment
member avatar

Marc Lee wrote:

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

I understand. Target DC lots are similar to Walmarts; the tractors are separated from the trailers and parked in a different lot.

The requirement of performing an initial "abbreviated" PTI on the tractor (stand-alone) and then a PTI on the coupled tractor-trailer is recent. What changed is the drive-line sensor on the tractors used to be set over 15mph and less than 15 minutes (there is that number again). Now its 5mph. The net affect is an inability to creep to the trailer before going on the drive line. Regardless Swift has mandated the tractor must be pre-tripped before any driving, even in a controlled, non-public environment like a DC. There are signs in the drivers lounge indicated a tractor PTI must be performed before moving the vehicle, otherwise face disciplinary action. I think it's safe to assume, this came out of a meeting between DOT , Knight/Swift safety and log department management.

So just to be clear... I notate in the remarks "Tractor PTI" and once coupled-up "Tractor & Trailer PTI". Tell them what you are doing.

Marc the method you described for Target is what I used to-do when performing the PTI; I drove the outbound lot, couple-up and then begin the full PTI. We cannot do that anymore, for any reason.

So a couple of other things I do that are not necessarily written, but advisable:

- I check the glad hand seals and replace them if significantly worn. I usually carry about a half dozen of these at any given time.

- I always check tires before doing anything else. Reason? If I have a flat, continuing the PTI is fruitless because I will be driving a spare/reserve tractor that day (oh joy). I also carry a needle-nose pliers when inspecting tires, if I need to pull a foreign object out of the tread. Saves steps. I also attempt to start the truck immediately after checking the tires. A dead-battery or other electrical problem is something I want to identify and report immediately.

- Thoroughly check the electrical connection of the pigtail to the trailer electrical box. If there is significant "play" from a worn connector (male or female, doesn't matter) I shim it "tight" using a wooden coffee stir-stick. Ever wonder why you see a truck at night with it's running lights flickering? More than likely caused by a loose connection between tractor and trailer.

- Roll windows down while charging the air in the trailer tanks. Once the governor cuts-out, I set the tractor parking brake, shutdown the engine and listen for leaks on the trailer side of things. Even a minor leak is fairly easy to hear. This has saved me many, many times form taking the trailer out of the yard. Walmart shop is on-premise, and will repair-in-place. - In the winter I use a paper towel and remove dirt and grime from all of the light lenses within reach on the tractor and trailer. This also includes reflective stripes on the ICC bumper and rear door.

- Test the engine brake while driving between tractor PTI and trailer PTI.

- Sniff test; I know this sounds odd, but sometimes leaks are easier to smell than they are to see. Coolant, cooking oil, diesel fuel and power steering fluid all have distinct odors and for the most part should not be noticeable if everything is in proper working order. (and please stow the jokes about a strong and foul ammonia odor, NS)

Stuff I have found:

Foreign objects in tires (common)

Missing wiper blades (I know, really? )

Blown drive seal (on a post trip inspection)

Loose wheel lug nut (only once)

Steer tire defects (significant sidewall cuts and/or tread issues). I do not mess with steer tires of wheels.

Wheel rim cracks

Well worn or partially shredded belts (more than once). Requires a check under the hood.

Leaking steering gear box

Missing screws on hood grill

Cut in an air hose from frame to to brake chamber

Air hose rubbing/scuffing on side frame

Non-working lights. (all kinds)

Broken trailer leaf springs

Hanging mudflap brackets (potentially dangerous to others if left unattended)

Hanging trailer mudflaps

Broken air hose springs leading to the tandems. Ever since Susan dealt with a failure of one of these causing a brake fire, I check them thoroughly; I will pull on the hose to make sure the spring is working. I will also inspect the securement of the spring to the body and to the hoses.

Cut in glad hand air hose

Large hole in trailer floor (large enough to get my hand into it)

Fuel leaking from reefer tank

Less than minimum Tire tread depth

Leaking coolant around upper hose leading into the radiator (again, gotta pop the hood or you will never see this)

That's what I can recall. I'm sure many of you can add to this list. Point being, stop clock watching when you do the PTI. If you are not checking things thoroughly and completely, many of the things in my list will go unnoticed/undetected until of course they fail. They result of which can leave you sitting on the side of the road waiting for assistance or a tow. Ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

Tandems:

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".

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".

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.

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.

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