Updated: Dec 15, 2020
In 2014, FMCSA rescinded the requirement that commercial motor vehicle (CMV) drivers operating in interstate commerce, submit, and motor carriers retain DVIRs when the driver has neither found nor been made aware of any vehicle defects or deficiencies.
Drivers will still be required to perform pre-trip evaluations of equipment condition and complete DVIRs if any defects or deficiencies are discovered or reported during the day's operations. Motor carriers will still be required to have a systematic inspection, repair, and maintenance programs (including preventative maintenance) and maintain records to prove measures are being taken to reduce to the extent practicable, the risk of mechanical problems happening while the vehicle is in operation. Besides, motor carriers will still be required to review driver vehicle inspections that list defects or deficiencies and take appropriate action before the vehicle is dispatched again.
As a basis for its decision, the U.S. Department of Transportation noted that approximately 95% of all DVIR's completed list "No Defects" and that this change would save the industry an estimated $1.7 billion annually without compromising safety.
Whereas this rule change addresses motor carriers of property engaged in interstate commerce, commercial fleets entirely engaged in intrastate commerce should check with their respective state motor carrier enforcement agency to determine this ruling's applicability to the state code of regulations. Many states have adopted (all or parts of) the federal regulations and all future amendments; therefore, this rule change will become effective immediately after being published in the Federal Register on December 18TH however it is best to verify your state requirement.
Tips for Motor Carriers
Part 396.13 of the FMCSR's states the driver shall be satisfied that the motor vehicle is in safe operating condition before driving it. That does not change with this rule. Motor carriers should continue to diligently train their drivers on conducting a practical vehicle inspection and advise them of their responsibilities as a driver of a commercial motor vehicle.
Follow up on scheduled vehicle maintenance results with the driver. When a vehicle goes through its scheduled maintenance and is found to have defects that could have been detected during standard driver pre- or post-trip inspections, use that information as an opportunity to coach the driver on the importance of conducting thorough vehicle inspections.
Quietly observe your drivers conducting vehicle inspections. Motor carriers whose drivers depart and return to the facility daily have an opportunity to observe their drivers' behaviors. Observing a driver's actions when they believe "no one else is looking" will give insight into their regular routines. Should your driver not be conducting adequate vehicle inspections, use the observation to coach the employee on the importance of vehicle inspections.
While observing behavior is difficult for over-the-road carriers, every opportunity should be taken advantage of when the driver is in a location where management is domiciled.
Suppose the only reason a company does daily vehicle inspections is to be compliant with laws and regulations. In that case, that company's management is probably pretty happy about the pending change because compliance will be more comfortable.
Companies with that attitude have probably already been implicitly advocating pencil-whipped inspections, and now drivers do not even have to go through the motions. Unless the vehicle has a problem that cannot be ignored, they are "good to go."
However, if you understand the links between vehicle inspections and safety and between safety and profitability, the new rules will not affect your operations. Enlightened management teams will continue to require daily documentation of vehicle inspections because they know inspections save money—and that daily documentation is essential in creating a culture where inspections are taken seriously.
Daily documentation holds drivers accountable and clarifies that the company truly cares about doing inspections the right way—significantly, if drivers realize there is no legal imperative to explain why the company insists on daily inspections.
How Daily Inspections Increase Profitability
When thorough inspections are done every day, you know the vehicles are safe when they leave the yard or garage. That keeps your drivers safe—and that alone should be justification for documented daily vehicle inspections. However, there is also a profit motive.
Ensuring that your drivers properly inspect vehicles every day helps prevent on-the-job injuries (to employees and others) due to vehicle failures on the road. Such injuries lead to a host of costs, including:
· Increased worker's compensation insurance premiums
· Increased group medical coverage premiums
· Decreased productivity due to lost work time or less-skilled replacement employee
· Recruiting and training replacement employees
· Legal expense
With an equipment inspection checklist such as DVIR, daily documentation ensures that inspections are done correctly, which means it is far less likely that minor problems will be overlooked before they escalate and cause higher maintenance costs.
There is also a psychological factor at play—when drivers have to fill out a vehicle inspection checklist every day, they begin to develop a "sense of ownership" for that vehicle—and human nature is to take better care of things you "own." When drivers are paying attention to the condition of the vehicles they drive every day, they will tend not to "beat them up" so bad, resulting in less maintenance.
Daily vehicle inspection data is also useful to management in planning vehicle use, determining maintenance schedules, and evaluating vehicles' quality.