Truck drivers are only as good as the vehicles they’re operating. So whether you’ve been doing this for years or you’ve only been a trucker for a few months doesn’t matter. If the truck you’re driving isn’t well-maintained, you’re at risk of accidents all the same, putting your life and the public’s in danger.
According to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, around 531,000 large truck accidents occurred in 2018. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, meanwhile, states that 4,136 people died from these large truck accidents in the same year. Unfortunately, most of these are pedestrians or passengers of other vehicles. Around 16 percent of the fatalities, though, is large truck occupants.
This is why the maintenance of commercial trucks is crucial. These vehicles haul heavy loads and run on the road for days at a time, making them susceptible to wear and tear. And while you can talk to a truck labor lawyer if you get injured while driving, the injuries and loss of other people’s lives can be completely preventable if you’re driving a well-maintained truck.
Drivers’ Responsibility in Truck Maintenance
Under the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) Rules and Regulations Section 396, fleet owners and other motor carriers must regularly inspect, repair, and maintain all trucks under their fleet.
1. Pre-trip and Post-trip Inspections
As a driver, you know your vehicle best, so you’ll be able to tell if something is amiss. This is why the FMCSA designated pre-trip and post-trip inspections to truck drivers. If you notice any issue, you must record it and tell your superiors so that they can also look into the problem. Some of the things you must always inspect are:
- Tires and air hoses
- Brakes and suspension
- Lights and windshields
- Engine oil and fluids.
2. Scheduled Truck Maintenance
Apart from regular pre- and post-trip vehicle checks, official maintenance checks must also be carried out. The schedule of these major maintenance checks depends on the types of trucks, their ages, and the mileage of each vehicle. Preventive maintenance checks help increase the lifespan of a vehicle and reduce safety risks by nipping a vehicle’s issues in the bud before they become full-blown safety risks.
Among the most important things to do during a scheduled maintenance check are:
- Alignment and steering inspection
- Brake inspection
- Tire inflation inspection
- Lighting and electrical inspection.
3. Seasonal Truck Maintenance
A truck’s maintenance needs in summer are vastly different from their maintenance needs in winter. So before each season starts, make sure to prepare your truck and furnish it with the season-specific pieces of equipment it needs.
For summer, make sure that your truck’s fan and air conditioner are functioning properly. Also, check the clutch because it might overheat. During fall and winter, you must prepare your tire chains and tread for the snowy roads, ensure that the heaters are working well, and add fuel additives so that your engine can function well in low temperatures.
With these inspections, your truck will be ready for the long haul. Moreover, these maintenance checks lower the risk of crashes and other vehicular problems, helping you and your employer deflect the major expenses involved in accidents.