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Inspection and maintenance tips for trucking companies

Written by Steve Gursten Posted May 14th, 2013

Some helpful pointers for trucking companies to evaluate their preventative inspection and maintenance policies according to Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations

truck company inspection tips

As a truck accident attorney, I’ve seen too many preventable crashes that were caused because the semi-truck was not properly maintained.  We’ve previously blogged about some of the duties and regulations that trucking companies are required to abide by.  Preventive maintenance and periodic inspection of trucks will prevent failures from occurring while the truck is on the highway and avoid accidents.

Truck accidents caused by mechanical failure are very frustrating because they’re preventable.  The truth is, there are many regulations which companies and truck drivers must adhere to relating to maintenance of the commercial vehicle.  Even trucking companies who make an honest effort to do the right thing and regularly inspect, maintain and repair their fleet of trucks might overlook something.

So all you trucking companies out there; consider this.

Here are some of the things (emphasis on some) you can ask yourself, or consider doing, that might be helpful in inspecting your big rig trucks and maintaining a safe fleet.

Q. Do your trucks demand excessive repairs?
A. If so, this might indicate that your maintenance or inspection procedures are inadequate.  It is critically important to have these preventative procedures in place to avoid accidents.

Q. Do you have a record keeping system to track your vehicle maintenance?
A. Under the Safety Regulations,  you must have a record keeping system in place.  You must detail your inspection, maintenance, and repairs made on your trucks.  Failure to keep these records can land you in big trouble with the FMCSA.

Q. Do you have a way of keeping track of when wear on a component part is such that it requires replacement?
A. This ties into record keeping discussed above. You must have a system in place capable of monitoring wear on your trucks’ parts. The importance of doing this cannot be understated.

Q. Are you aware of the guidelines and regulations that mandate a truck to be placed out of service?
A. There are certain conditions which can by themselves disqualify a truck from operation.  Make sure you are familiar with these.  The penalties for operating vehicles which, under the Safety Regulations, should be off of the road can be severe. In fact, this is precisely the type of violation that could warrant the FMCSA ordering your company to cease operations immediately pursuant to the statutory power to remove “imminent hazards” from the road.

Q. Is there a way for you to monitor how effective your preventative procedures actually are?
A. It is one thing to have maintenance and inspection procedures in place – but whether they are effective is a totally different inquiry.  Make sure your policies are effective in detecting and promptly correcting defects in the trucks you operate.  Effective maintenance procedures will prevent accidents and save lives.

Q. Have you adequately trained your drivers to detect maintenance needs?
A. You should make sure that your truck drivers are aware of their inspection and maintenance obligations under the Safety Regulations, and that they can perform those duties.  These are separate duties imposed on the truck driver by the FMCSA independent of those imposed upon the motor carrier. For more information, take a look at our blog on inspection tips for truck drivers.

Q. Does your maintenance program scrupulously look at these critical components:

  • Steering
  • Brakes
  • Couplers
  • Tires and wheels
  • Suspension?

A. These critical components have their own inspection parameters under the Safety Regulations. Make sure you are familiar with them, and you are inspecting your fleet accordingly. We have previously discussed some of them on this blog, such as tires.

Remember, this is not an exclusive list.  Nor is it meant to be a guide to making sure your policies are in compliance with the FMCSA regulations.  This is meant to get truck companies thinking about, and really examining, their inspection and maintenance procedures.  Let’s all work together and make our roads safer.

For more information please see the FMSCA Preventative Maintenance and Inspection Procedures.

Steven Gursten Photo

About Steve Gursten

Attorney Steven Gursten is president of the Motor Vehicle Trial Lawyers Association and past president of the American Association for Justice Trucking Litigation Group. He has been named a Michigan Lawyers Weekly "Leader in the Law" for his efforts to prevent truck accidents and promote national truck safety. Steve was also a Michigan Lawyers Weekly "Lawyer of the Year" for a record settlement in a truck accident case. He has received the top reported truck accident jury verdict and top reported truck accident settlement in Michigan for multiple years, according to published year-end compilations of all jury verdicts and personal injury settlements by Michigan Lawyers Weekly. He has been named a "Top 50 Super Lawyer," by SuperLawyers, is listed in Best Lawyers in America, and has been awarded an AV-rating by Martindale-Hubbell, which is the highest rating for legal ability and ethics. Steve speaks to lawyers throughout the country on truck accident litigation. He is a founding member of the Truck Accident Attorneys Roundtable, head of Michigan Auto Law, and has dedicated his legal career to making our roads safer.
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