Pre-trip and post-trip vehicle inspections are a best practice for every fleet, and for good reason. They keep drivers in tune with their vehicles, while carving out time to catch any maintenance or safety issues before they become a road-side call. Inspections also have the added benefit of helping the vehicle last longer and wear better.
Ideally, every inspection should take no less than five minutes—to ensure no one rushes through the process—and no more than seven minutes—so it’s not cutting into job productivity. (Note that in transport trucks, which we’re not referring to in this article, inspections should take longer.)
How do fleet managers create an effective inspection program that can be completed in 7 minutes?
Here are some tips.
- Get your vehicle maintenance crew to help create your driver checklist. They will know the vehicles well enough to recommend a list based on the size and purpose of the vehicle, and the priorities of your fleet.
- Model your training manual after the routines of your best drivers. Study the processes of those who continually perform thorough and consistent inspections and write them down.
- Keep the inspection checklist between 7 and 9 items, and train the driver to complete the inspection the same way, every time. This helps the driver develop a habit, increases efficiency, and ensures your fleet’s priority components are being routinely checked.
- Piggybacking from the last point, make sure to introduce your drivers to the standardized inspection process during orientation. This will establish a good feel for their vehicle from the beginning and it becomes routine for them from the start.
- Have the proper inspection tools—such as a tire pressure gauge, tire depth gauge, gloves, and a flashlight—in the vehicle at all times. It’s a small detail, but if everything is onsite, the driver doesn’t need to spend time searching.
- Spell out what each task entails. “Check brakes” could mean stepping on the pedal to make sure the lights work or actually moving and stopping the vehicle. Be clear about how each task is performed.
- Where applicable, give your driver a good indication of what each vehicle component looks like when it’s operating well, and what a component might look like when it needs maintenance.
- An efficient vehicle inspection should include checking the engine compartment, doing a walk-around inspection, and an in-cab inspection.
- If you have the technology—such as a telematics device or even a phone-based app—use electronic forms (not paper) to limit the administrative/filing time.
Even in time-sensitive industries, there is no reason why drivers can’t inspect their vehicles thoroughly. In seven minutes, drivers should have the confidence that their vehicle is safe and ready for the job ahead.