The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration requires commercial drivers to inspect major parts of the vehicle, including brakes, steering, lighting, tires and horn, and log the results in writing on pretrip inspection forms. The driver must be satisfied that the vehicle is safe to operate before beginning his trip.
The pretrip inspection forms or written reports must contain information about defects in the vehicle that could cause a mechanical breakdown or that make the vehicle unsafe to operate. The reports must indicate if drivers do not find any defects during their inspections. Drivers must sign the reports. In vehicles with two drivers, only one is required to sign as long as both agree about the defects noted. The FMCSA forbids drivers to operate vehicles that have defects that could cause accidents or vehicle breakdowns while traveling. Vehicles that break down while on the road are permitted to continue traveling to the nearest place where they can be repaired.
Motor carriers have obligations to inspect, repair and maintain all trucks in their fleets. Motor carriers must inspect frames and frame assemblies, suspension systems, axles, and steering systems.
FMCSA requires motor carriers to keep driver preinspection forms and written reports for all vehicles in their fleets for three months from the date that the forms or reports are signed. The required reports include the original driver's vehicle inspection reports, certifications of any repairs performed and certifications of the driver's reviews.