Your safety on the road is of paramount importance so never take shortcuts. Never compromise your safety or the safety of others on the road. Be sure you know how to control your vehicle. This involves skill in accelerating, steering, stopping and backing safely.
Vehicle safety is most important. You should do a safety inspection of your vehicle for the safety for yourself and others on the road. A pre-trip inspection is a must and is a necessary part of your truck driving job. You might want to consider conducting a pre-trip inspection the same way each time so you will be less likely to forget the steps involved. A vehicle defect found during an inspection could save you problems later and even prevent you from having a breakdown on the road later.
Federal and state laws require that drivers inspect their vehicles. Federal and state inspectors can inspect vehicles and put any vehicle “out of service” if they determine that the vehicle is unsafe. Obviously, you will lose much more time if this happens than if you took the time to do a pre-trip inspection. This Seven Step inspection method details the steps involved in performing the pre-trip inspection.
2. Check Engine Compartment which involves checking the engine oil level. coolant level in radiator, power steering fluid level, windshield washer fluid level, battery fluid level and tie downs and automatic transmission fluid level. Check belts, hose condition and check for leaks in the engine compartment. Also, check for cracked, worn electrical wiring insulation.
3. Get in truck and start engine making sure that the parking brake is on and listen for any unusual noises. Check gauges, oil pressure and coolant temperature. Check conditions of controls. This includes checking for damage, looseness, sticking or improper setting of steering wheel, trailer brake (if applicable), parking brake.
Check transmission controls, windshield wipers, lights headlights, dimmer switch, four-way flashers, turn signal and any other switches. Check mirrors and windshield for crack, dirt, or other obstruction to seeing clearly. Be sure to clean and adjust as necessary. Check emergency equipment as well as any other safety options. Be especially careful driving in hazardous weather conditions such as rain, sleet and snow.
4. Turn off engine and check lights making sure that the parking brake is set. Get out of the truck keeping the key with you while you walk around the vehicle to check headlights and four-way emergency flashers for any problems.
5. Do a general walkaround inspection checking all lights, glass and reflectors cleaning where necessary. Check the drivers’ door glass and locks to be sure they are working properly. Check windshield wipers to be sure they work properly. Check the condition of tires, brakes, and front and rear axels. Check the condition of the steering column to make sure that there are no loose, bent, damaged or missing parts. Be sure to grab the steering mechanism to test for looseness. Check the rear of engine, transmission, exhaust system for leaks and all air lines.
If you are hauling cargo, make sure it is secured the best possible way. This may include being sure that is blocked, braced, tied, chained or a combination thereof. For cargo requires the use of a tarp be sure it is properly secured. For oversize loads be sure to have the required signs, flags and reflectors as well as the necessary permits. Be sure the header boards, sideboards and secure and free of damage.
6. Check all signal lights. Be sure to have all required paperwork, trip, manifests, permits , etc. Secure loose items in the cab.
7.Finally, start the engine and test for hydraulic leaks if the vehicle has hydraulic brakes. Then test the parking brakes. Get any problems fixed.
It is also important to regularly check vehicle operation during a trip. Drivers of tractor/trailers transporting cargo should inspect the securement of the cargo within the first 50 miles of a trip and every 150 miles or every three hours afterwards, depending on whichever comes first. This is an important step which should always be done.
Basic safety tips include:
1. Always buckle up
2. Always use turn signals
3. Getting plenty of rest before getting behind the wheel
4. If you are aware of any problems at the end if your trip, be sure to make a written report as to the nature of the problem.