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Complete Guide to Driver Vehicle Inspection Reports (DVIR)

by Jonathan Davis on November 23, 2021
 
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For a fleet manager, driver vehicle inspection reports (DVIR) are a crucial part of keeping vehicles on the road, costs under control, and the organization safe from compliance-related fines and penalties. 

But for all the reports' ubiquity and importance, many in the industry have failed to implement the modern solutions that help fleet managers streamline the entire process. 

Before examining recent technological developments, there's value is reviewing some critical facts about DVIRs. 

What is a driver vehicle inspection report (DVIR)? 

Although they are closely connected to daily pre- and post-trip inspections, a DVIR is not an inspection itself. Instead, it is the formal, standardized, recorded confirmation that the driver has properly completed the right inspections. 

One way to understand the multiple roles played by DVIRs is to look at the related-but-separate responsibilities of the drivers and the carriers. 

Driver responsibilities 

The driver conducts the inspections, both before taking a vehicle out on the road and after bringing it back to the carrier. Many times, the industry talks about the post-trip inspection happening "at the end of the day," and while this can be the case, the phrasing can be misleading. So, if a driver is on a long-haul delivery, they complete the post-trip inspection when they are stopped for the night. 

But if a driver is using multiple vehicles over the course of a day, for example when doing a series of local deliveries, then they complete a post-trip inspection when they return the vehicle, even though it's not technically the end of their day. 

During any of the inspections, when a driver discovers a problem, they include it in the report and inform the carrier promptly. 

Carrier responsibilities 

The main tasks for the carrier centres around repairs. If the driver informs them of a problem, they need to arrange to have it fixed and certify that someone did the work. In some cases, however, the driver might flag an issue the carrier decides not to address. Here, the carrier must then certify that the requested repairs were unnecessary. 

The common requirement for both drivers and carriers is that they need to properly document everything. Remember, a DVIR is not the inspections or the subsequent repairs. It's the record of the process, complete with signatures from all responsible parties. 

What is the purpose of a DVIR? 

DVIRs deliver different results to different groups. 

From the Department of Transportation, the way you ensure that people do something is requiring them to document the process. If you want drivers to inspect their vehicles before and after each trip and for carriers to be quick to respond to any safety concerns, you make it a requirement that they need accurate, accessible inspection records. 

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For fleet managers, DVIRs help keep everyone safe, both your drivers as well as others on the road. During inspections, drivers are looking specifically at features that ensure the vehicle is safe to drive, including: 

  • Brakes and air systems 
  • Wheels, tires, and rims 
  • Lights and reflectors 
  • Rearview and side mirrors 
  • First-aid kits 

A complete list would be much longer, but the overall intent and focus is always the same, ensuring safety. 

What are the benefits of DVIRs? 

If you were going to design a chart of the benefits, you could place improved safety in the middle, with all the knock-on benefits radiating out like spokes on a wheel. 

Because you have fewer accidents, more of your deliveries arrive on time, improving your reputation in the industry. Fewer accidents, especially those that involve other vehicles, drivers, and even pedestrians, also means you are avoiding expensive jumps in insurance premiums and having to defend yourself against civil litigation and possibly criminal charges. 

More indirect, but just as expensive, consequences can include loss of reputation. No one wants to do business with a company known for high-profile accidents. 

For fleet managers specifically, though, there are additional benefits. Each report works as a window into the vehicle’s condition before and after each driver, allowing you to more easily track how drivers treat the company assets. You can also use some of the information in the reports to gain a better understanding of your fleet. A cluster of the same types of failures could suggest the fleet is nearing the end of its useful life. It might affect future purchases from certain automobile manufacturers. 

What are the consequences and penalties for failing to complete a DVIR? 

DVIRs are mandated by the Department of Transportation with the specific goal of increasing safety. Therefore, they take non-compliance seriously and have set the fine accordingly. 

For example, maximum civil fines for failure to comply with DVIR requirements include: 

  • $1,270 a day for failure to complete a DVIR 
  • $12,695 for knowingly falsifying or altering a record 
  • $15,419 for every single violation of non-record-keeping 

There are other potential costs, as well. If during a roadside inspection the DoT decides your vehicle is unsafe, you must have it repaired before the driver can take it back on the road. Until then, it's sitting there, along with its cargo, burning up your driver's time and your customer's patience. 

What are the benefits fleet maintenance software and digital DVIRs? 

Reliable DVIRs demand that drivers carefully generate data, which they then safeguard before submitting to the company. 

But because traditionally everything is done on paper and by hand, it is easy to accidentally introduce errors. And even when drivers produce perfect data, there is always a chance the paper can go missing before they can submit it to the company. And even when the company has perfect records, locating a specific report or combining data into useful business intelligence is a labor-intensive exercise in frustration. Worst yet, there are even more chances to introduce errors when working with the data. 

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Modern fleet maintenance software solutions solve these problems with a streamlined process you can use to capture data and then capitalize on it. 

Stronger communication 

When everything is on paper, you don't know what is on the report until it's right there in your hand. And even when you have it, you might not have the complete picture. Drivers working on paper are limited by their ability to write clearly, concisely, and accurately on scraps of paper while working their way around large vehicles, outside exposed to the elements. 

With a modern fleet management software, though, they can efficiently run through the inspection, easily adding critical data with a few properly placed clicks and swipes. And because they are working from a mobile device, they can use the built-in camera to capture images that clearly and instantly show exactly what they want addressed. 

But it's more than simply better data capture. As soon as the driver completes the inspection, the software syncs the data in real time with a cloud-based database, which means the fleet manager has near-instant access from anywhere. 

More reliable record-keeping 

The benefits of a cloud-based database extend beyond the immediate. Compliance always has multiple steps. First, you need to do the work and create the records to be in compliance. But you also need to be able to prove it. It's not enough to know you are compliant. You must be able to reliably prove to government agencies that you are, in fact, in compliance. 

It's the same as being licensed to drive different classes of vehicles. First, you need the license. Second, you need the paperwork that proves you have it so you can show it to the officer or official at the side of the road. 

When all your data is inside one database, it becomes safe, secure, and searchable. 

Next steps 

Set up a call with one of our experts to discuss how ManagerPlus can help you take charge of your asset management.

Summary 

Driver vehicle inspection reports (DVIR) are the records your organization must create and keep to ensure drivers are completing pre- and post-trip inspections. They also serve as a certified record that the carrier is aware of safety issues and has taken the appropriate steps to address them. Drivers are responsible for doing the inspections noting any safety issues while carriers are responsible for making the necessary repairs and replacements. The overall goal is improved safety, with many of the benefits stemming both directly and indirectly from fewer accidents, including avoiding delays, fines, and costly civil and criminal liabilities. Although the tradition was to do everything on paper, modern fleet maintenance software solutions solve the problems that nagged older processes, including the difficulties of generating, protecting, and searching data. With a central database that lives in the cloud, drivers can use a mobile device to quickly capture and share data. Fleet managers, now with near-instant access to reports as they come into the system, can leverage the data to prove compliance. 

Jonathan Davis
About the author

Jonathan Davis

Jonathan has been covering asset management, maintenance software, and SaaS solutions since joining Hippo CMMS. Prior to that, he wrote for textbooks and video games.

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