Getting ready for your Inspection
Whether it’s your Annual USDOT, BIT 90-day, or other state-required vehicle inspection, make it a policy to conduct the required regular Inspections on the vehicle and if you address issues when they come up you are likely ready for your DOT Annual or State Inspection. I would add, avoid any unneeded required repair issues documented on the report by making sure you take the time to have yourself or your team inspect the unit(s) Pre or Post-Inspection Checklist. prior and check everything right down to the wiper fluid, as any issue(s) will be documented on the report. A clean inspection is the goal so also double-check that the required Portable Fire Extinguisher is fully charged, and securely mounted in an easy-to-access location. DOT also requires that you have Spare Fuses and Emergency Reflective Triangles on board at all times.
Braking System and general operating condition of said vehicle
Brakes are always a REAL big deal and they are visually inspected as well as tested. Having an Air brake system means you likely have a larger vehicle or transporting heavy loads. Here is a printable, CDL Air Brakes Seven-Step Checklist and Pre/Post Inspection Checklist that should be part of your regular inspection program. It is very important to have your driver conduct this simple test if operating an Air Brake System as well as a general overview of all items of your pre-inspection list prior to your DOT Annual Inspection to ensure the best possible outcome. The last thing you want on a report is a documented needed repair when it could have easily been avoided.
The 6-Pack Brake Adjustment might be helpful and is a simple task to complete, Bring the system up to no less than 90 pounds and make three hard brake applications. By the time you make three hard brake applications, you are going to be below 90 psi, so let the system build up, and make three more full hard brake applications. Unless there is a mechanical issue with the braking system components this will likely reset the brakes and keep your brakes adjusted within DOT specs and guidelines. Whether the old manual AIR Brake Slack adjusters or required automatic slack adjusters since 1994 the Air Brakes are a vital subject and part of your CDL training and testing qualifications. There is wonderful information on the web as well as videos in regards to the subject, How to Determine Air Brake Adjustment | Air Brake Smart and Chart of Air Brake Adjustment Limits.
Commercial vehicles require certain safety equipment for vehicle protection and for the safety of those in the vehicle
A checklist to ensure that each vehicle has the following safety equipment:
Note: Guidelines and Regulations are subject to change so for the most updated and additional information: https://csa.fmcsa.dot.gov/safetyplanner/
5.1.4 Emergency Equipment (393.95)
Each CMV (except those towed in a driveway–tow-away operation) must have the following emergency equipment:
- Portable Fire Extinguisher – proper type, size, and rating – securely mounted in an easy-to-access location
- Spare Fuses – All vehicle operational fuses
- Emergency Reflective Triangles – warning devices for stopped vehicles
The US Department of Transportation and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), regulate the safety of commercial motor vehicles used on highways for transporting passengers or property.
FMCSA regulation 49 CFR Part 393.95 requires safety equipment on all of the following trucks, truck tractors, and buses:
- Vehicles with GVWR, GCWR, or gross vehicle weight over 10,000 lb
- Buses for compensation with over 8 persons and non-compensation buses with over 15
- Vehicles transporting hazardous material requiring placards
All buses, trucks, and tractors require a portable fire extinguisher for compliance with FMCSA. A 10-B:C unit is required for vehicles with hazardous materials and 5-B:C for all others. An extinguishing agent that doesn’t freeze is required, and each unit must be secured in a manner that prevents sliding, rolling, and vertical movement. Fire extinguishers must be mounted and securely mounted in an easy-to-access location.
Emergency Reflective Triangles
The FMCSA requires warning devices for stopped vehicles. Although flares are acceptable, the following equipment is most commonly carried on each vehicle, as a minimum, for compliance:
- At least 3 bidirectional emergency reflective triangles (P/N TKB1)
Spare Fuses – All vehicle operational fuses
DOT Reflector Tape is required on key areas of the Tractor/Truck and Trailer and is often overlooked – DOT Reflector Tape Requirements
Wheel Chocks – can be required under certain conditions
Wheel chocks (P/N HDLWC) are typically carried on all commercial motor vehicles to prevent accidental movement while vehicles are parked and during loading and unloading. Chocks are used against the rear tires in the direction of grade. On even surfaces, chocks are placed on both sides of the tires. Chocks should always be used in pairs. note: The law states that air-braked power units (made on or before March of 1975) are enough to keep a commercial motor vehicles from moving during the loading and unloading process. However, the FMCSA does require blocks or chocks for all agricultural commodity trailers, pulpwood trailers and heavy haulers.
First Aid Kits
The FMCSA does not mandate first aid kits, but many states do require them. Even when not mandated, a first aid kit to match the maximum number of vehicle occupants (passengers plus driver) is a smart idea. Others will appreciate your knowledge of the federal safety requirements and your recommendations for products and equipment that will help ensure the safety of vehicles, passengers, and drivers.
Reflective Drivers Vest
The FMCSA does not currently mandate a driver’s reflective vest, but they can be a lifesaver when stepping out on a busy highway, loading, and unloading and a vest can be purchased for as little 7 to 10 dollars.
For more additional information:
Related – DOT Reflector Tape Requirements
Current Operating Area