What is DVIR: The complete fleet managers’ guide (+ how to get more efficient with DVIR automation)

A Driver Vehicle Inspection Report, or DVIR for short, is a formal record of a daily inspection on a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) that your driver carries out each working day. The drivers perform these inspections after their shift ends and at the beginning of their next shift, which is why they’re also known as the pre- and post-trip inspection.

Driver Vehicle Inspection Reports are mandated by law and described in the United States Federal Law 49 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) § 396.11 and § 396.13. The enforcement of these regulations is the responsibility of the United States Department of Transportation (DOT) and Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).

To make sure everyone adheres to the regulations, the U.S. Motor Carrier Safety Assistance Program (MCSAP) inspectors conduct roadside inspections of commercial motor vehicles. They examine if the vehicles and drivers are compliant with the regulations on federal safety and hazardous materials. 

Fun fact – did you know that around 3 million roadside safety inspections are carried out each year in the U.S.?

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Your driver needs to make sure all their equipment is working properly (Source: giphy.com)

Why are DVIRs required?

Despite what you might think, these reports and inspections aren’t just a government-imposed inconvenience as there are some truly compelling reasons for carrying them out. According to an estimation by the FMCSA, roadside inspections and related intervention projects are responsible for preventing over 7,000 collisions, around 4,000 injuries, and more than 200 deaths per year.

Driver Vehicle Inspection Reports are required as a measure to ensure not just compliance with the law, but also the safety of commercial vehicles. They aim to minimize the casualties, injuries, and material damage from accidents caused by a vehicle malfunction

Having the DVIR process in place means that a carrier’s fleet manager has done their due diligence in this area, which can be verified during roadside (and other sorts of) government-mandated commercial vehicle inspections.

To visualize the importance of DVIRs, just imagine one of your vehicles is involved in an accident (which we hope will never happen) due to a faulty component that should’ve been repaired. You will probably be blamed for it and face the consequences as the person directly responsible for the vehicles’ maintenance and management.

So the next time you start feeling like handling DVIRs is unnecessary bureaucratic nonsense and a waste of time, just imagine how many lives (not to mention money) are saved each year thanks to them. Also, think about how many problems it could save you personally.

When are DVIR inspections performed?

As you already know, DVIR inspections are carried out twice on a typical workday – before the commercial vehicle operation starts and after it ends, hence their designations the “pre- and post-trip inspections”.

  1. Pre-trip inspection

Before the truck driver begins operating a specific vehicle, they need to review the previous DVIR carried out on the same vehicle. If there were any problems noted in that report, the driver has to review them and sign them off, as well as verify that there aren’t any other problems by inspecting the vehicle again.

  1. Post-trip inspection

On the other hand, the post-trip inspection of the vehicle is carried out after the driver finishes their driving for the day. In case that one driver operates multiple vehicles during the day, a separate DVIR is prepared for each one of them. The law also requires that organizations retain on-site for three months all DVIRs that found any defects.

Some of you may remember that until 2014, drivers had to file DVIR forms even if they noticed no defects or deficiencies during an inspection. Thankfully, this ‘No Defect’ rule was rescinded in December 2014 as it was deemed unnecessary and a waste of time.

What is included in the DVIR process?

Experienced fleet managers already know the drill:

  1. Inspection: Your driver carries out a thorough inspection of the vehicle. This consists of checking for any noticeable damage, defects, dirt, or other problems, checking under the hood, inside the cabin, and outside of the vehicle, as well as testing the lights, brakes, and other relevant components by starting the vehicle.
  1. Reporting problems: Should any problems come to light, the driver has to make note of them in the report so they can be resolved as quickly as possible.
  1. Signing the report: Before submitting the report to the fleet manager, the driver has to sign it to prove its authenticity and confirm that the inspection has been conducted. If there are two drivers, only one has to sign the DVIR, as long as they both agree on the identified problems.
  1. Corrective action: The fleet manager has to ensure that all the problems listed in the report are fixed (or if their repair is unnecessary) and that the vehicle is in good condition to operate before its next trip. This is confirmed in the certification of repairs.
  1. Certification of repairs: The motor carrier or the fleet manager has to certify on the DVIR that the found defects have been repaired or that the repairs are unnecessary before the CMV can be operated again. 

If the DVIR doesn’t indicate that the found defects have been repaired or their repair has been deemed unnecessary by the person in charge, the driver is prohibited from operating the vehicle.

What areas does the driver check during a DVIR inspection?

When performing their DVIR inspections, your drivers should rely on a checklist of areas that need to be assessed. While the content of the checklist may vary depending on the carrier, nature of the business, and type of vehicle, it typically includes (but is not limited to):

  • tires, wheels, and rims
  • braking system
  • air line connections and hoses
  • steering mechanism
  • lighting devices, lamps, reflectors, and indicators
  • switches and warnings
  • windshield wipers
  • mirrors and sun visor
  • coupling equipment
  • fifth wheels
  • safety and emergency equipment
  • horn and speedometer
  • seat belts and doors
  • sliders or sliding frame lock
  • tie down bolsters
  • fuel levels
  • battery
  • power unit and trailer (if present)

Your drivers need to check whether these elements are properly fitted and working correctly, whether there are any damage, cracks, dirt, fluid or air leaks, whether the tires are properly inflated and have suitable thread paths, if there’s enough fuel to complete the trip, and other relevant details. 

In other words, they will be searching for any problems that could affect the safety of operation of the vehicle or result in a breakdown, and put them down in the report.

What else does a DVIR need to include?

In addition to the information about any damage or deficiencies on the vehicle, the DVIR needs to contain company information, including:

  • name
  • address
  • home terminal
  • vehicle identification (fleet unit number, license plates, etc.)
  • trailer number (if applicable)
  • date of the inspection
  • signature of the driver completing the DVIR
  • signature of the mechanic repairing the vehicle or signature of the fleet manager deeming the repair unnecessary
  • signature of the next driver reviewing the DVIR before the trip

What are the penalties for non-compliance?

If your vehicles are discovered to be non-compliant with the DVIR regulations, your business may face various consequences. The most obvious one is being fined by the DOT officer in charge. In fact, civil penalties for failing to complete a DVIR can reach $1,292 for each day this violation continues. But spending your or the company’s hard-earned money on paying fines is just one of the negative outcomes.

If your vehicle fails an inspection, you may also be required to take it off the road for repairs. As you can imagine, this can result in unforeseen downtime, the related loss of revenue, and a decreased CSA (Compliance, Safety, Accountability) score for your company, which in itself carries serious repercussions. All this translates to a lot of headaches for you as the person directly responsible for your organization’s fleet management.

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Failing roadside inspections means a lot of problems for you and your drivers (Source: giphy.com)

Are any carriers exempt from the rules?

As a matter of fact, yes! In section 396.11 of the regulation covering DVIRs, you’ll find several categories of vehicle operators excluded from the law, including:

  • driveaway-towaway vehicle carriers
  • private passenger-carrying motor carriers (nonbusiness)
  • motor carriers operating only one CMV

Why DVIR automation beats the old ways

We’re living in the modern era where nearly everything is becoming electronic and automated. The change is happening in the vehicle inspection area as well, with the blessing and full support from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

Ushering DVIR automation through fleet management software, by taking advantage of the functionalities of electronic logging devices (ELDs) and other assets, has multiple advantages:

  1. More efficient vehicle inspections

Completing electronic DVIRs (or eDVIRs) instead of using pen and paper will allow your drivers to go through the checklist items quicker and easier, while not missing a single important detail.

  1. Improved communication

Taking the DVIR procedures into the electronic sphere will facilitate faster and more efficient communication between you, your fleet maintenance teams, and your drivers as the reports are submitted in real-time. This will result in maintenance teams being better prepared in advance for any problems they’ll need to fix.

  1. Quicker access to DVIRs

If your DVIRs become a subject of a government inspection or audit, you’ll need to provide quick access to several months’ worth of DVIRs. Automation of this process will save you a lot of precious time and effort.

  1. Easier DVIR reviewing

In case you have forgotten, reading other people’s handwriting is often difficult and time-consuming, plus it may be misinterpreted. Having it all in an electronic form saves your drivers a whole lot of time trying to decipher their colleagues’ scribbles, as well as prevents any potential problems and misunderstandings due to incorrectly passed information.

  1. Faster troubleshooting

DVIR automation facilitates a proactive approach to vehicle maintenance as it allows real-time reporting of defects along with photos or videos. This way, the maintenance teams are kept in the loop so they can better prepare for the repairs and schedule them more efficiently, resulting in less time during which the vehicle is unavailable.

  1. Increased driver and vehicle mobility

Your drivers may not always be at the company’s premises when carrying out DVIRs, so having software-based long-distance methods (aka ‘the cloud’) will allow them to complete their inspections anywhere, anytime.

  1. DVIR customization

Not all commercial motor vehicles are the same. Depending on the type, you may need to make certain adjustments to the DVIR template. Being able to do so on a computer or tablet will make a world of difference.

  1. Less resource wasting

Finally, DVIR automation means you no longer have to waste human and material resources on less-than-efficient ways of record-keeping, such as paper, pens, and time it takes to write everything down.

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Automating Driver Vehicle Inspection Reports will make the job easier for you and your drivers (Source: giphy.com)

Optimize DVIRs with the next-level fleet management system

With the help of Safe Drive Systems’ cohesive platform that comprises multiple areas, including:

you’ll be able to take your Driver Vehicle Inspection Reports into the electronic sphere and automate them, but also accomplish so much more. Specifically, this unique software and hardware system will allow you to:

  • automate vehicle inspection and maintenance
  • monitor the whereabouts of every vehicle in your fleet anytime
  • get alerts via email or SMS
  • set reminders
  • eliminate paper, pens, and hours wasted on inefficient methods
  • easily comply with the regulations
  • identify and address poor driving habits
  • keep track of fuel usage, engine hours, and vehicle mileage
  • plan out the most efficient routes

So if you need an advanced and comprehensive, yet user-friendly solution to automate your fleet maintenance, optimize your drivers’ daily vehicle inspections and reports, as well as effectively prevent collisions, you can hit the brakes on the search right now. Simply book a free consultation with one of our expert advisors and you’ll get a recommendation based on your fleet’s requirements.

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