How DVIRs are Crucial to a Safe, Reliable Fleet

A big part of being a safe carrier is ensuring that your vehicles are free from damage, defects or deficiencies before they leave the yard. That’s where the Driver Vehicle Inspection Report (DVIR) comes in.

Troyanphoto Adobe Stock 509930367
troyanphoto AdobeStock_509930367

In the trucking industry, there is a strong link between safety and success. After all, motor carriers that aren’t serious about safety put their drivers and other motorists in danger, face costly legal consequences related to accidents and risk having their vehicles put out of service for safety violations – all of which are bad for business.

A big part of being a safe carrier is ensuring that your vehicles are free from damage, defects or deficiencies before they leave the yard. That’s where the Driver Vehicle Inspection Report (DVIR) comes in.

The DVIR is a formal confirmation that a driver has performed pre- and post-trip vehicle inspections. Any defect found during an inspection must be repaired before the vehicle is dispatched again.

While completing DVIRs is a matter of regulatory compliance, routine vehicle inspections are crucial to maintaining a safe, successful fleet. This article will discuss the importance of DVIRs for brake health and overall vehicle reliability, as well as electronic vs. paper DVIRs.

DVIRs and brake health

When it comes to brake health, the stakes are high: At a minimum, brake issues can result in the CSA score taking a hit – not to mention revenue loss if a truck is put out of service (as of mid-September 2023, some 85,000 trucks had been put out of service due to brake issues, per the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration). Worse, though, defective or malfunctioning brakes can lead to potentially catastrophic safety issues on the road.

Pre- and post-trip vehicle inspections by drivers are crucial to finding issues before a brake-related accident or breakdown occurs, or a truck is put out of service. Moreover, DVIRs – in conjunction with driver behavior data from telematics devices – serve as a feedback loop: When brake issues are consistently reported, they can highlight areas where drivers might benefit from additional coaching on optimal braking techniques or highlight manufacturing issues that a vehicle manufacturer needs to address. Finally, DVIRs create a record of a truck’s maintenance history, which helps in predicting when the next brake service might be required, ensuring proactive brake maintenance.

DVIRs improve overall vehicle reliability

While brakes are a pre- and post-trip inspection focus area, DVIRs cover all essential components of a vehicle. This comprehensive approach ensures that every critical part of the vehicle is regularly monitored and maintained – from major systems like the engine and transmission to smaller, yet still important, parts, such as lights or wipers. This systematic examination ensures that all vehicle components receive attention.

Regular inspections lead to the early identification of potential problems. Detecting issues early can prevent them from escalating into major failures. By addressing concerns promptly, vehicles remain operational and unexpected breakdowns become less likely.

Also, well-maintained vehicles last longer. Regular checks and timely maintenance mean that a vehicle remains in good condition, extending its lifespan. This not only ensures reliability but also provides economic benefits in terms of reduced downtime and prolonged asset value, which is especially important amid today’s supply chain issues and equipment delays.

Finally, vehicles that are regularly inspected and maintained perform better. They are more fuel-efficient, have better handling, and provide a smoother ride. All these factors contribute to the vehicle's overall reliability on the road.

What are electronic DVIRs?

The FMCSA does not lay out a specific format for DVIRs, and carriers may use a paper-based system for logging inspections. However, paperless electronic DVIRs greatly streamline the process.

With the paper DVIR process, for example, it may take a while for a driver to submit the paperwork – and once it reaches the mechanic, finding the defects to repair may turn into a paper shuffling exercise. As a result, a severe defect may not be picked up right away or may take too long to repair, which can lead to unnecessary downtime, or worse, an accident.

Electronic DVIR solutions improve communication between drivers and mechanics. For instance, drivers can submit defects and mechanics can be notified in real time so they can plan for the repair by getting parts and prioritizing their schedule. With an electronic system, drivers can be confident a vehicle is safe through being able to view previous inspection reports and corresponding repair notes for any vehicle in the fleet before they drive.

Also, electronic DVIRs simplify record keeping. The FMCSA requires carriers to keep inspection reports, certification of repairs and certification of the drivers’ review of the repairs for three months from the initial inspection report. And carriers that do not maintain required records can face stiff fines. Electronic DVIRs ensure that inspection and repair records are kept and easily accessible.

In conclusion, DVIRs are a cornerstone of maintaining vehicle safety and reliability. By ensuring regular checks and maintenance, vehicles not only stay roadworthy longer but also ensure the safety of drivers, passengers, and everyone else on the road. For motor carriers, adopting a proactive approach through DVIRs is not just good practice but an investment in safety and reliability.