Stay Safe, Truckers: Conducting CDL Pre-Trip Inspections

By: Kat Saks July 24, 2012
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If you operate a commercial vehicle, you need to know what's under the hood of your truck. Before hitting the road, commercial drivers should perform a pre-trip inspection to ensure the truck is safe to drive.

State motor vehicle departments second this belief. In fact, most states require truck drivers to pass a pre-trip inspection test before they can obtain a commercial drivers license (CDL).

Commercial Vehicle Pre-Trip Inspections: The Basics

During a CDL pre-trip inspection, truckers inspect many aspects of their commercial vehicle, including, but not limited to:

  • Overall safety of the vehicle.
  • All major vehicle hoses. The driver should check the condition of the vehicle's hoses and look for puddles on the ground or dripping fluids that might indicate a leak.
  • All major fluid levels, such as oil, power steering fluid, and more.
  • All major vehicle belts, including the power steering belt, water pump belt, alternator belt, and air compressor belt. Check for the snugness of all belts, as well as for cracks or frays.
  • Check the clutch or gearshift
  • Ensure the oil pressure gauge functions properly
  • Confirm that all mirrors and windshields are clean, undamaged, and unobstructed
  • For non-power steering vehicles, ensure the steering play is within the normal range.
  • Double check that emergency equipment is on board. Truck drivers should carry spare electrical fuses, at least three reflective triangles, and a properly charged and rated fire extinguisher at all times.

Why Conduct a Pre-Trip Inspection

In a CDL pre-trip inspection test, the driver demonstrates her knowledge of the main commercial driving safety points by walking around the vehicle, checking various safety components and explaining to the test administrator why each part should be checked for safety. Truck drivers should touch each vehicle part as they perform the pre-trip inspection so the test administrator knows exactly what area of the truck the driver refers to.

If you're a commercial driver, CDL pre-trip inspection tests provide the state evidence of your knowledge. They can also provide you peace of mind. When you know your truck's safety features inside and out, you can take a load off your mind and drive with more ease.

Are you a commercial truck driver? Tell us about your experience with CDL pre-trip inspections in the comments section below.

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