Although most fleet operators complete the required Driver Vehicle Inspection Report (DVIR) processes with paper, many are now moving to digital DVIRs.
Federal safety regulations mandate DVIRs under 49 CFR 396.11 and 396.13, with the rules enforced by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). Failing to comply can become expensive, quickly. The documentation requirements alone can carry penalties of more than $1,200 per day, with additional penalties of more than $15,000 per day for failing to complete needed repairs.
With those numbers in mind, see how well you can answer the following: If you had to, could you find one specific vehicle's inspection reports from, say, two years ago, proving that the vehicle was safe to operate on a particular day? How long would it take you to track down that record and verify that a pre-trip inspection was completed that day and any necessary maintenance was performed?
With an enterprise asset management (EAM) solution, surfacing DVIR data is fast and easy. Even more so, your compliance efforts are well documented, helping you avoid the high cost of fines and liability.
Let’s take a look at what you need to complete DVIRs and how EAM can transform the inspection process from clunky and time consuming to seamless and efficient.
What is a Driver Vehicle Inspection Report?
Essentially, a DVIR is a checklist of items on a commercial vehicle—such as lights and brakes—that an operator must inspect before and/or after putting that vehicle on the road. Drivers must inspect each item to ensure the vehicle is safe to drive and verify that it doesn't pose a safety risk to others.
Safety is a serious concern for any reputable fleet-reliant business, and the DVIR rules help set standards for everyone. When all fleet operators follow the rules, no one gains an under-handed advantage by cutting corners on basic safety precautions.
DVIR rules apply to any commercial trucks and buses:
Weighing 10,001 pounds or more
Designed for nine or more passengers
Placarded for hazardous materials
How to create compliant DVIRs
Federal regulations specify the minimum list of items which must appear on a DVIR checklist. How you design the look of the list is up to you.
Any number of sources can supply printed paper lists, but over time, the paper lists can become costly, wasteful, and harmful to the environment. Not to mention, paper is less secure and extremely difficult to access on-demand.
That’s why digital DVIRs and inspection processes are becoming a trend. But it’s not just a simple electronic replacement for paper. There are advantages to updating your inspections process with the connectivity of an EAM platform.
With a DVIR checklist presented on a mobile device, the operator can walk around the vehicle and collect data efficiently. The pre-trip or post-trip inspection details can then be accessed within the EAM in real time. Dashboards can present the full snapshot of all your inspections and surface the pass/fail rate as well as the failure codes.
Having all this data—in real time—ensures your assets receive the attention they need to get on the road safely. Here are five steps to begin streamlining your DVIRs.
1. Create a checklist
Your first step in creating your digital DVIR process is to set up fields for all the data you need to collect on inspections for your fleet vehicles.
According to FMCSA regulations, DVIRs need to include:
Inspection date — you might want to include the time as well
Vehicle identity — such as fleet unit number, license plate number, etc.
Signature of the driver who prepared the DVIR — this can be captured digitally
Signature of the person who repaired the vehicle or decided that repair was not needed — simple pass/fail buttons on the mobile app can help streamline this process
Signature of the next driver to verify that the repair was done or not needed — this provides greater accountability in the re-inspection
This basic data will help you organize the inspection reports and tie the DVIR results to each specific vehicle asset. Next, you’ll need to set up the nuts and bolts of the inspection items the operator must examine before and/or after getting out on the road.
Every DVIR must cover at least the following parts and accessories:
Service brakes including trailer brake connections
Lighting devices and reflectors
Rear vision mirrors
Wheels and rims
Most fleet managers include additional items. Your past experiences, the type of vehicles you operate, and your business insight can help you decide which additional inspection items you want to include.
2. Create a culture of compliance
For some operators, DVIRs can seem like a bureaucratic headache, especially when they’ve never seen any significant inspection failures. But fleet managers know that DVIRs ensure safety and help protect the company. Safety incidents do happen, and DVIRs are the best way to document safety efforts.
Create a culture of compliance with digital DVIRs deployed through your EAM platform. Unlike paper, digital DVIRs are more efficient so your operators spend less time on inspections and more time on the road.
Everyone’s familiar with the pitfalls of “pencil whipping” your way through an inspection report. If operators are in a hurry, fatigued by paperwork, or simply not paying attention, they might be tempted to check off an inspection item without really observing the vehicle. That could lead to a safety issue.
For example, if an operator absentmindedly checks off a windshield inspection without actually looking at the windshield, a small chip could quickly turn into a big crack that impairs the driver’s vision on the road.
Consider adding photo options to critical items on your DVIRs to verify inspections. Photos can also document failure details to help technicians get a jump on corrective action repairs. With an operator-facing digital DVIR and mobile capabilities, a picture will be worth more than a thousand words.
3. Record DVIR inspection failures
Back in 2014, a regulatory update allowed operators to skip filing DVIRs if pre-trip and post-trip inspections resulted in no safety concerns or equipment issues. The modification aimed to save time and lighten administrative burdens.
However, every responsible fleet operator knows that skipping inspections can lead to safety issues and potential liability. Something as simple as low tire pressure can cause an accident on the road.
When you record data in your EAM for all inspections, every time, and keep your failure histories, you benefit by capturing documentation that demonstrates your safety efforts. It’s information that could save your reputation and help your company avoid regulatory fines or potential legal action.
4. Complete DVIR corrective action
Once you have your DVIR inspections complete, you’ll need to design a process to follow up on vehicles that fail inspections. A modern EAM will help you trigger automatic work orders to save time.
For example, if a truck has low tire pressure, the operator can choose “fail” on the DVIR pre-trip inspection. Then your EAM instantly generates a work order that’s assigned to a mechanic who can quickly add air to the tires—an important corrective action.
Your EAM will then surface that event on your dashboard in real time, so you always know the status of your vehicles, including which ones have failed and the associated corrective actions. By using an automated process, you avoid the lag in getting your fleet vehicles ready for the road, which means greater asset availability and a better bottom line for your business.
5. Verify and document
Keep in mind that regulations have a prescribed retention period for DVIR reports. You’ll need to maintain the completed DVIR report, the certification of repairs, and the certification of the driver's review for three months from the date the report was prepared.
Your EAM provides the ideal platform to store inspection reports and connect them to work orders. Even better, you can search the DVIRs to inform your total asset management strategy.
By keeping good inspection records, you can avoid regulatory fines, which include a maximum civil penalty of $1,270 for each day the violation continues, up to $12,695. In 2019, the FMCSA settled 3,972 enforcement cases overall, resulting in more than $27 million in settlements.
But there are other penalties for non-compliance with DVIR regulations. Department of Transportation or state highway patrol officials can immediately put a vehicle out of service if repairs are needed. The downtime means you lose revenue and possibly future business.
EAM software makes DVIRs easy
Your EAM software will streamline your fleet vehicle inspections process and make DVIRs faster and easier for your drivers. You can decrease the time they spend on old-fashioned paperwork and avoid the risk of “pencil whipping.”
With real-time status reports and automated work orders to trigger corrective actions in your EAM, you see greater asset availability, which translates to a better bottom line. The closed-loop inspections process also keeps everyone accountable.
By connecting the entire inspections process—from operator DVIR completion, to status reporting, to work order triggers, to corrective actions, to re-inspection—you gain efficiencies and ensure safety at the same time.