Is a post-trip inspection required by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations?

Driver's Vehicle Inspection Report

The Driver's Vehicle Inspection Report. Actual forms may vary.

After each trip (or the end of a 24-hour period) a Driver’s Vehicle Inspection Report (DVIR) form (per 49 CFR, Part 396.11), needs to be completed for each Commercial Motor Vehicle (CMV) driven, noting and documenting any vehicle “faults” or defects in need of repair. A trailer can be a CMV as well, a non-motorized vehicle, distinct from the pulling or “power unit.”

49 CFR Part 396.11 says:

a) Report required. (1) Motor carriers. Every motor carrier shall require its drivers to report, and every driver shall prepare a report in writing at the completion of each day’s work on each vehicle operated . . .

b) Report content. The report shall identify the vehicle and list any defect or deficiency discovered by or reported to the driver which would affect the safety of operation of the vehicle or result in its mechanical breakdown. If no defect or deficiency is discovered  . . .

If No Faults/Defects/Deficiencies are Noted:

(1) the DVIR report shall indicate such;
(2) the Driver must sign the report;
(3) A legible copy of previous DVIR must be on vehicle;
(4) the Original copy needs to be retained by the organization or company for 3 months.

If Faults/Defects/Deficiencies are Noted:
(1) the DVIR must list noted defects (any faults affecting safety);
(2) the Driver must sign report;
(3) A legible copy of previous DVIR must be on vehicle;
(4) Motor carrier shall certify that all defects were repaired or not needed
prior to placing vehicle in service (e.g., a mechanic must certify in writing with his/her signature on the DVIR)
(5) the Original copy retained for 3 months (i.e., placed in the master file for that particular commercial motor vehicle or CMV).

Common DVIR issues/violations:
(a) the driver fails to make a report for each vehicle driven; recall that a trailer is a non-motorized vehicle, too, and a driver may pull several trailers around in a 24-hour day or during the course of a single trip;
(b) the driver fails to sign the report or other important data is missing (i.e., license plate or unit number);
(c) the reporting mechanic fails to sign the report;
(d) reports are misfiled, misplaced or otherwise part of a system without good document control(s);
(f) the company sits on a repair problem without fixing it immediately;
(g) the driver doesn’t know how to inspect a CMV (how to “inspect to fail” not “inspect to pass” the vehicle; see: or how to properly fill out the form;
(h) the driver has “check-the-box-itis” and fails to utilize the “Remarks” area to help document his or her observations/inspection(s) during the trip. Use the remarks to document things like: “added oil” or “top-off fluid levels,” “adjusted mirror,” “wiped off reflectors,” “changed a light-bulb.” This extra-step is a good habit that could make a difference later not only in a road-side stop or DOT audit, in favor of both the driver and/or organization, but some day in court. Note any new damage or “mystery damage” to the vehicle.

Prepare the DVIR on a separate form (one for each vehicle) so it can be properly filed and controlled. Forms or booklets/pads are sold at most truck stops (or see and ask for their transportation catalog). Some companies bolt a special clipboard on the dash next to the driver for better organization.  One copy of the DVIR report may stay in the truck (this is not a requirement), however, the original copy (the “signature copy”) is what must be processed and filed, and kept for at least 90 days in the master vehicle file.

Failing to make or properly complete a required DVIR can result up to $1,000 DOT fine, per vehicle, per day. It’s a common violation, but one that can be easily eliminated with new habits, protecting the driver*, the public and the organization.

The DVIR – don’t leave home without it.

* When I train drivers, I tell them, The insurance is on the truck. A driver’s main protection from citations, violations or even career-ending lawsuits is to “document simple” any vehicle safety issues (including those, according to the regulations, “reported to the driver”).  In this way, a driver has used the regulations to protect both himself and the organization.

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