Keep Your Trucks on the Road: How Complete Inspection Records Lead to More Revenue

By Michael Benedict on July 25, 2017
Tags: Data Collection

Truck inspections

For a driver, carrier, or fleet owner, driving time means more revenue. Every minute your vehicles aren’t on the move, you’re losing money.

What’s the secret to minimizing time off the road? Often, it comes down to thorough documentation. Keeping complete and up-to-date records of your inspections can help you reduce downtime — whether due to repairs, out-of-service (OOS) violations, accidents, or otherwise — and keep your trucks generating revenue.

Of course, the method you use to maintain your records can affect the value and utility of that documentation. If you and your drivers are constantly scrambling to find paper forms (which may or may not be up to date), your documentation probably won’t be very effective in keeping your fleet moving. But by capturing data digitally with mobile inspection apps, you’ll be able to access updated information on demand, from anywhere — and that can have a significant impact on driving time. Here’s how.  

Immediately identify preventive maintenance needs
The key to high-performing vehicles is preventive maintenance. Keeping the components and systems on your trucks properly maintained can keep them running safety and reliably. However, that can be a challenge for companies that rely solely on paper documentation, as it can be difficult to track and communicate back to the office which vehicles need which services, and when.

Mobile inspection forms can help you better track data for each of your trucks, such as mileage and completed repairs. Equipped with those records, you can more accurately time preventive maintenance and communicate when necessary services, like repair orders, need to be performed before minor issues turn into breakdowns or violations during roadside inspections.

Maintain quick-to-complete and accurate pre-trip inspections
During a recent blitz of roadside inspections performed by the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance, over 62,000 vehicles were inspected — and more than 20 percent (one in five) were immediately placed out of service. Some experts think drivers could avoid many of those violations if they kept better records. 

Consider this: Jeff Langloss, the federal program manager for the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), recently examined the violation records of 10 randomly selected companies in the Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas, area. He found that of the 4,296 total violations, 3,309 — 76.3 percent — could have been avoided with a pre-trip inspection. While that’s only a small sampling of the country, it’s clear that pre-trip inspections can be a helpful tool in avoiding common inspection violations.

Mobile pre- and post-trip inspection forms help drivers quickly and accurately assess the major systems and features of their vehicle, and determine if it’s safe to drive. Mobile pre-trip inspection forms cover: 

  • Tires (inflation, tread, condition of spare)
  • Leaks (oil, fuel tanks)
  • Gauges
  • Dashboard warning lights
  • Lighting system (headlights, brake lights, turn signals, hazard lights, reflectors)
  • Safety equipment (fire extinguisher, reflective triangles/flares, spare bulbs, emergency contact info)
  • Trailers (brake connections, coupling chains/king pin, doors, landing gear, tires/wheels)
  • Other (windshield wipers, fans/defroster, brake system, mirrors, horn, exhaust system, seatbelts)

Collecting that data prior to each trip can help drivers and carriers pinpoint issues before they result in roadside inspection violations.  

Increase safety to avoid damaging (or even fatal) accidents    
Keeping accurate documentation can even help prevent crashes that are all too common in the trucking industry.

For example, an Ohio-based commercial driver was recently involved in a fatal accident. Following the crash and investigation, the driver’s family learned that the vehicle had been equipped with a badly worn tire and front axle. A crash reconstructionist who looked into the accident determined that the truck had so many maintenance issues that it shouldn’t have been on the road in the first place.

While not all crashes can be prevented, thorough documentation of truck maintenance and pre-trip inspections can help catch issues before they cause damaging or even fatal accidents that can affect your drivers and other motorists.

Minimize litigation by having accurate documentation
Accidents can also bring legal issues for carriers and other businesses that have trucks on the road.

For example, in another accident, a commercial vehicle that was hauling bales of hay lost 10 bales as its driver tried to keep the load from shifting in a curve, killing a driver and passenger in a nearby vehicle.

Ultimately, the truck’s owner and driver faced charges for failing to secure the load — a violation that should have been caught in a pre-trip inspection and certainly would have been caught during a roadside inspection. But federal records showed that the vehicle hadn’t undergone a check in about 15 years. Had the owner maintained regular inspections and records, he could have used that documentation during the litigation — and moreover, he likely could have prevented the accident altogether.

Mobile inspection forms aren’t just more convenient for your drivers; they’re more effective in keeping your documentation up to date and readily accessible — which can be key to keeping your trucks on the road. Learn more about how mobile inspection apps can benefit your business in the interactive eBook, “4 Ways Mobile Inspection Forms Can Keep Your Trucks on the Road.”

Then get started by trying out GoCanvas free for 30 days (no credit card or contract required). We'll help you create your first app, whether it’s for regular inspections, maintenance logs, or managing documentation. 

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