DOT-Compliant Vehicle Inspections: Part I


Over the next few articles, we will review vehicle inspection requirements for commercial trucks as required and endorsed by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). In this article, we will review daily vehicle inspections.

Drivers must conduct inspections at the beginning and end of each shift and on each vehicle used and complete a driver’s vehicle inspection report (DVIR). A DVIR is used to notify a driver’s company about any unsafe or missing equipment on the vehicle. It’s an integral part of a systematic and compliant vehicle maintenance program. Before anyone else can drive the vehicle, the company must repair the defect(s).

Who Is Required to Fill Out a DVIR?

The DVIR rules apply to drivers of commercial trucks (and buses) weighing 10,001 pounds or more.

DVIR Exemptions

Certain types of vehicle operators are exempt from DVIR inspection rules:

  • Driveaway-towaway operations, in which the vehicle or trailer being towed is the commodity being transported
  • Motor carriers with only a single commercial vehicle
  • Private motor carriers that transport passengers but not as a business operation

What Does the DVIR Include?

The DVIR should include the following information:

  • Date
  • Vehicle identity (fleet unit number, license plate number, etc.)
  • Signature of the driver who filled out the form
  • Signature of the mechanic or other person who repaired the vehicle (or decided that repair was not needed)
  • Signature of the next driver of the vehicle to acknowledge that the repair was done or not needed

Vehicle Parts to Include in the Inspection

Each DVIR must include any defects found on the following parts and accessories:

  • Service brakes (including trailer brake connections)
  • Parking (hand) brake
  • Steering system
  • Lights and reflectors
  • Tires, wheels, and rims
  • Horn(s)
  • Windshield wipers
  • Rearview mirrors
  • Coupling devices
  • Emergency equipment (fire extinguisher, reflective triangles, spare fuses)

If a driver or company violates the DVIR rules, the penalties for violations are significant: up to $1,270 per day for failing to complete a DVIR when required, up to $12,700 for falsifying a DVIR to hide a safety defect, and up to $15,420 for failing to repair a reported safety defect.

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