Commercial Motor Vehicle Driver Vehicle Inspection Fact Sheet

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The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) states that every motor carrier including its officers, drivers, agents, representatives, and employees that are directly a part of the inspection or maintenance of commercial motor vehicles to comply and have full knowledge of the rules in part 49 CFR 396.11.[ii]

Motor carriers are required to systematically inspect, repair, and maintain all motor vehicles and intermodal equipment subject to their control. This includes parts and accessories that shall be in safe operating conditions. This fact sheet will cover the requirements for a driver’s role to ensure that he or she is operating a defect-free or deficiency-free vehicle before starting a trip, and how to report deficiencies properly so the motor carrier is informed.

1. Pre-Trip Inspections (Part 396.13)
1.1 Drivers must thoroughly inspect the commercial motor vehicle and be satisfied with its safe operating condition before starting a trip.
1.2. Drivers must review the last driver vehicle inspection to determine if the previous post trip inspection indicated the vehicle has defects or deficiencies that affect the safe operation of the vehicle. The driver must also sign the report to acknowledge that he or she reviewed the report and certifies that the required repairs have been performed as is required in 396.11(a)(2)(i).

2. Post-Trip Driver Vehicle Inspection Reports (Part 396.11)[iii]
2.1. Drivers must thoroughly inspect the commercial motor vehicle and prepare and sign a written report at the completion of each workday on each vehicle operated if a defect or deficiency that would affect the ability to safely operate the vehicle is found or has been reported to the driver.
2.2. The report shall cover at least the following parts and accessories
2.2.1. Service Brakes (includes trailer brake connections)
2.2.2. Parking Brake (hand)
2.2.3. Steering mechanism
2.2.4. Lighting and reflectors
2.2.5. Tires[iv]
2.2.6. Horn
2.2.7. Windshield wipers
2.2.8. Rear-vision mirrors
2.2.9. Coupling devices
2.2.10. Wheels and rims
2.2.11. Emergency equipment
2.3. Drivers that operate more than one (1) CMV in a day are required to inspect and prepare a written report for each vehicle operated with deficiencies. 

3. CMV inspection reporting requirement
3.1.1. The post-inspection report is required to be reported to the appropriate manager If a defect is observed that would affect the safe operation of the vehicle
OR If damage has been reported to the driver during operation that would affect the safe operation of the vehicle. If the motor carrier employer uses an electronic system to document the results of pre-trip and post-trip inspections, be sure to enter the correct information into the system.

4. Commercial Motor Vehicle Corrective Actions
4.1. A motor carrier must repair each defect or deficiency reported on the driver’s vehicle inspection report prior to the vehicle’s next dispatch.
4.2. The original driver vehicle inspection report must be certified to show that the observed defect or deficiency has been repaired or if the repair is unnecessary.

5. Driver Vehicle Inspection Report Retention
5.1. Motor carriers must maintain for three (3) months from the date of the initial report
5.1.1. The original copy of the driver’s vehicle inspection report
5.1.2. The certification of completed repairs
5.1.3. The certification of the driver’s review

Drivers must comply with the language in the collective bargaining agreement, if applicable. Note that some Teamster collective bargaining agreements include language on what drivers must do if he/she observes vehicle deficiencies that violate federal or state regulations, standards, or orders. Drivers should report noted deficiencies of advanced crash warning technologies in the appropriate location of the driver vehicle inspection report. If there is no field for such reporting, the deficiencies should be noted in the “optional” section of the report.

For more information contact the IBT Safety and Health Department at (202) 624-6960 or visit

[i] FMCSA: 5.2.2 Vehicle Inspections

[ii] FMCSA: Part 396-Inspection, Repair, and Maintenance

[iii] FMCSA: Drivers Vehicle Inspection Report Form

[iv] USDOT: Commercial Tire Safety Tips