In The News

New Year's Tips for Your Trips

By Brandon Baxter - Staff Writer
Posted Jan 8th 2024 8:00AM

As 2024 swings into full gear, a lot of folks start the dawning of a new year by making resolutions or setting goals for the days, weeks, and months ahead. For professional drivers, it might be a good idea to kick the new year off right by setting some goals in terms of daily routines to change, update, or follow.

Over the last three years or so many companies and carriers have been dealing with, and attempting to manage, a very uncommon situation within the trucking industry. Namely, they’re operating with aging fleets due to the shortage of new equipment and a backlog of trucks that have yet to be delivered. So, in an effort to try and maintain what equipment they are currently operating with, here are some timely tips to help keep existing assets in prime operating condition while on the road. Besides, these are also some excellent habits to form and maintain throughout your driving career.

Happy New Year, indeed!

Use a Checklist

FMCSA has a checklist that drivers must follow in order to cover key areas of the truck. It starts with checking the truck’s general condition. Drivers should be on the lookout for any obvious issues, noting those issues, and reporting any that are potentially serious on their Driver Vehicle Inspection Report (DVIR) so that the shop can take corrective action and avoid potential problems.

Drivers should regularly be checking their fluid levels, including the engine, coolant, and transmission fluids. They also should be routinely reviewing the condition of belts, hoses, wires, batteries, and all of the electrical connections. Paying special attention to any slipping belts, loose connections, as well as any signs of fraying or wear on belts and hoses.

Mind Your Trailers

If you’re pulling a trailer, pay extra attention to obvious signs of any improper maintenance, such as missing mud flaps or airlines that are not properly secured. These are surefire ways to earn yourself a pullover from a Department of Transportation (DOT) inspector.

Inoperable lights are a huge reason for DOT to pull a truck over for a roadside inspection. Drivers need to ensure that their lights (low-beam headlights, four-way flashers, high-beam headlights, and any other lights on the tractor and the trailer) are fully operational.

Drivers should also be regularly checking all gauges and controls in the cab. And while performing their brake inspection, drivers should determine that all brakes, including the parking and service brakes, are properly working.

Drivers need to be sure and put best practices in motion each and every day. Utilizing an inspection form is one way to make sure all boxes get checked when walking the exterior of the truck and trailer. And if there’s an opportunity to use an electronic version of the pre-trip and post-trip inspection form, then that’s even better.

Companies and carriers should also be conducting refresher training on daily pre-trip and post-trip inspections for their drivers. The beginning of a new year seems an optimal time to enact any type of refresher courses for drivers, as well as fleet managers and maintenance crew.

Make proper truck maintenance part of your new year’s resolutions/goals. The end result is sure to be more pleasing than receiving word that a truck has failed an inspection or needs to spend extended time in the repair shop. A little extra time spent on the truck’s well-being will definitely offset any unforeseen costs in the long run.