There are various reasons why your pre-trip inspection tool might be ready for an upgrade. Whether you need improved accuracy or hope to find more real-time functionality, you’re in luck.
Pre-trip inspection tool advancements are continually evolving. These newer technologies streamline inspections into one seamless process. Now enhanced safety features allow this tool to be compatible with systems throughout your fleet. And safety for a fleet manager is priority number one.
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A 2022 fleet vehicle crash study found that fleet vehicles report an average of 4.5 accidents annually per driver. And what if I told you that 60% of those accidents were the result of mechanical failures? This crash stat report states that 35% of fleet vehicle accidents are caused by tire problems, 22% are caused by faulty brakes, and 3% are caused by steering issues.
It’s safe to say many in the fleet industry are failing to address these 100% preventable accidents with their current practices. So, let’s explore the pre-inspection process and why your pre-trip inspection tool may not be cutting it.
What is a Pre-Trip Inspection?
Pre-trip inspections are a series of checks that are performed on a vehicle before it is driven. These inspections are typically carried out by fleet managers or other designated personnel and are designed to ensure that the vehicle is safe and ready to use.
These checks usually cover a wide range of systems and components on a vehicle. The goal is to identify any vehicle issues or problems that could cause accidents or breakdowns and to address these issues before the vehicle is used.
By regularly utilizing a pre-trip inspection tool, fleet managers can help to reduce costly repairs and downtime while extending the longevity of their vehicles.
The Importance of Pre-Trip Inspections
The fleet vehicle system is responsible for the transportation of approximately 70% of goods in the United States. Clearly, this transportation network plays a vital role in the economy.
Therefore, it’s imperative for any business model to focus on increasing the reliability and longevity of fleet vehicles. You can do this with a proper pre-trip inspection tool.
Pre-trip inspections are an essential part of fleet management in four main ways.
By promoting the safety of their vehicles, fleet managers can help reduce the risk of accidents and breakdowns, which can potentially cause harm to drivers or passengers.
Pre-trip inspections can help identify potential vehicle maintenance issues before they become more serious. By catching issues early, fleet managers can help extend their vehicles' lifespan and avoid costly repairs.
💰 Cost Savings
Without proper maintenance, fleet vehicles can break down and incur lost productivity and revenue for the businesses that rely on them. These higher operating costs may ultimately be passed on to the consumer in the form of higher prices for goods and services.
By performing pre-trip inspections and documenting the results, fleet operators demonstrate compliance with these regulations and avoid potential fines or other penalties.
What is Included in a Pre-Trip Inspection?
The Department of Transportation (DOT) in the United States requires commercial motor vehicle (CMV) drivers to conduct pre-trip inspections before each trip to ensure that the vehicle is safe and fit for operation.
The specific items that must be inspected depend on the type of vehicle and the nature of the trip but generally include.
🛑 Brake System
The brake system should be checked to ensure that all components are in good condition and functioning correctly. This includes brake pads, shoes, rotors, and other components.
The tires should be checked for proper inflation and tread depth, and any issues such as cuts, bulges, or uneven wear should be addressed.
The mirrors should be checked to ensure that they are properly adjusted and in good condition.
🚘 Steering and Suspension
The steering and suspension systems should be checked to ensure that they are functioning properly and that the vehicle is stable and safe to drive.
🚚 Engine and Transmission
The engine and transmission should be checked to ensure that they are functioning correctly and that there are no issues that could potentially cause problems while driving.
🦺 Safety Equipment
Any safety equipment on the vehicle, such as seatbelts, airbags, and fire extinguishers, should be checked to ensure that they are in good working order and ready for use.
Pre-Trip Inspection Tool Best Practices
There are also several best practices that fleet managers can follow to enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of a pre-trip inspection tool beyond the requirements of regulatory agencies.
📱 Use electronic inspection tools
Electronic pre-trip inspection tools can provide real-time updates and alerts, which can help identify and address issues more quickly and efficiently. They can also capture data more accurately than paper and pen, reducing the risk of errors and inconsistencies in records.
✅ Establish a standard process
Establishing a standard process for pre-trip inspections can help ensure that all inspections are conducted consistently and thoroughly. This may include a checklist of items to be inspected, as well as procedures for documenting and addressing any issues that are identified.
🛠️ Train drivers and mechanics
Providing training to drivers and mechanics on how to conduct pre-trip inspections can help ensure that they are aware of the importance of the inspections and know how to properly identify and address any issues that may arise.
🚚 Use advanced technology
Utilizing advanced technology such as telematics, sensors, and predictive analytics can help fleet managers identify and address issues more quickly and efficiently. This can help reduce the risk of unplanned downtime and improve the overall productivity of the fleet.
🔁 Regularly review and update the process
Regularly reviewing and updating the pre-trip inspection process can help ensure that it remains effective and efficient over time. This may involve incorporating new technologies, modifying the checklist of items to be inspected, or making other changes as needed.
Following best practices such as these, fleet managers can enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of their pre-trip inspections and improve the safety and performance of their fleets.
The Drawbacks of Using Pen and Paper as a Pre-Trip Inspection Tool
Paper and pen pre-trip inspection tools have several drawbacks that can make them inconvenient, error-prone, and inefficient. For this reason, the use of paper and pen has likely declined significantly in recent years as more and more fleet managers have adopted electronic solutions.
Here are a few drawbacks to using pen and paper as a pre-trip inspection tool:
Conducting pre-trip inspections using pen and paper can be time-consuming and inefficient. It may be difficult to quickly and easily check all of the critical systems and components on a vehicle, and it may be hard to ensure that all inspections are conducted consistently and accurately.
🎯 Lack of accuracy
Pen and paper inspections may be prone to errors or inconsistencies, as it can be difficult to accurately record and interpret the results of an inspection.
📂 Lack of record-keeping
Pen and paper inspections may not provide a good record of the results of an inspection, making it difficult to track the condition of a vehicle over time.
☎️ Limited functionality
Pen and paper inspections may not offer many additional features or functionality beyond basic inspection checks. This can make it difficult to quickly identify potential issues or share these issues with workers in different locations.
While using pen and paper as a pre-trip inspection tool may be a simple and inexpensive option, it can be inefficient and may not provide the accuracy, record-keeping, or functionality that is offered by more advanced pre-trip inspection tools.
Pros and Cons of Using Spreadsheets as a Pre-Trip Inspection Tool
Using spreadsheets as a pre-trip inspection tool for fleet vehicles can have both pros and cons. Some potential benefits of using spreadsheets for pre-trip inspections include
😃 Pros of Inspection Spreadsheets
- Customizability: Spreadsheets are highly customizable and can be tailored to meet the specific needs of a fleet. This can make them a valuable tool for conducting pre-trip inspections.
- Record-keeping: Spreadsheets can provide a good record of the results of pre-trip inspections, making it easier to track the condition of a fleet over time.
- Ease of use: Spreadsheets are relatively easy to use, and many people are already familiar with creating and editing them. This can make them a good choice for conducting pre-trip inspections.
- Accessibility: Spreadsheets can be accessed from any device with a compatible software program, making it easy for fleet managers to review and analyze inspection data.
😓 Cons of Inspection Spreadsheets
- Time-consuming: Conducting pre-trip inspections using spreadsheets can be time-consuming, as data must be manually entered and reviewed.
- Lack of accuracy: There is a risk of errors or inconsistencies when using spreadsheets to conduct pre-trip inspections, as data must be manually entered and reviewed.
- Limited functionality: Spreadsheets may not offer many additional features or functionality beyond basic inspection checks. This can make it difficult to quickly identify potential vehicle issues or track an inspection's results over time.
While spreadsheets can be helpful for conducting pre-trip inspections, they may not be as efficient or accurate as a more advanced pre-trip inspection tool.
Why Software is the Best Pre-Trip Inspection Tool
Pre-trip inspection software is designed to help conduct pre-trip inspections for fleet vehicles. This software typically includes a set of guidelines and prompts that guide the user through the inspection process.
It may include features such as checklists, customizable templates, and electronic forms that can be used to document inspection results. Some pre-trip inspection software may also include features such as alerts and notifications, as well as reporting and analytics tools to help track and analyze inspection data.
Overall, pre-trip inspection software is a useful tool for fleet managers and drivers, as it helps streamline the inspection process, improve accuracy and consistency, and enhance safety and compliance.