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Some Sample Cases Where Truck Drivers Actually Fill Out Both Kinds of Reports

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DO: Read the following inspections performed by two different drivers: Harmon Skywalker and Benny Guiterez. One driver should complete the log sheet inspection form and one should complete the multi-copy form. Decide which driver should complete which form. Then follow the instructions below, carefully completing the forms for each driver. Begin with Harmon Skywalker.

The first time you read what he did during his inspection, assume this: Harmon was performing his pre-trip inspection. Fill in the report as he would.

Next, read the inspection again. This time assume that Harmon is performing his post-trip inspection. Add any needed information to the form as Harmon would during his post-trip inspection.

When you have completed the proper form for Harmon (first as a pre-trip inspection form, then as a post-trip inspection form), move on to Benny Guiterez. Complete the form which Benny would fill out just as you did for Harmon Skywalker - first as he would for his pre-trip inspection, then as he would at the end of his day's run.

Vehicle Inspection No. 1 - Harmon Skywalker, Driver: Harmon Skywalker has been driving for Red Rock Trucking of Cedar City, Utah, for eight years now. He is identified as Employee No. 156. His tractor is over five years old, but the "old girl" as he calls his tractor, has been a good truck over the years. The tractor has over a quarter of a million miles on her frame and cab, but she was majored from front to rear about four months ago. (The word "major" means an overhaul that includes everything from the engine to the rear ends.) The old girl's vehicle number is #SA-247893, and the reefer's vehicle number is #PX-1147.

Harmon's company keeps good maintenance on all of its 18 trucks, so when Harmon is on the road, his mind is at ease. He feels a sense of security. His favorite expression is, "If you take care of her (meaning his tractor) she'll take care of you."

That is why a driver's inspection is critical. The driver can catch any defects or malfunctions while they are minor. Major problems which might otherwise develop can be prevented. And a major problem can cause a shut down for a period of a week or more. On top of that, there's the difference in cost between a minor, scheduled repair and a major overhaul on the road.

Needless to say, the critical eye of a driver during an inspection can, and usually does, save a company a great deal of money over the years. Harmon knows this. His company knows this. And both Harmon and his company respect the time it takes him to do a thorough inspection.

Now, let us follow Harmon as he makes his walk-around inspection at his home terminal on July 20th. Before he even thinks about entering the cab, he checks engine oil, water and fuel. While the hood or cab is up, he checks the entire engine compartment for leaks or signs of leaks, checks the condition of the fan belt and tension on all drive belts. He also checks the brackets that hold the alternator and air conditioner because he knows they do crack from vibrations after a period of time.

When he is satisfied that everything is okay under the hood, he starts up the rig and checks the dash instruments. Three gauges keep his attention for the first minute or so in the cab: oil pressure, air pressure, and temperature. The rest of the gauges are important, but these are the most critical ones. When he is satisfied with what he sees on the three critical gauges, he checks out the others, including the ammeter.

Satisfied that the gauges are registering normally, he leaves the engine warming up and building up air pressure, and hits the ground to check things outside. He checks the drive-line condition, tires, wheels, air hoses, electrical cables, fifth wheel lock, body, all lights and reflectors, and door latches or tie-downs.

This particular morning as he is making his rounds, he notices a spot of liquid under his left-rear tractor wheel. He places his finger in it and smells it. It isn't oil. Checking further, he realizes that it must be water which dripped down from his reefer unit. However, while he is crouched down, he notices something else. The inside of the brake drum on his left-rear tractor wheel is wet. This time, touching it with his finger, he recognizes it as oil. He gets his flashlight. Upon closer inspection, he becomes certain that he has an inside wheel seal leakage. This is a serious enough situation to require attention. However, Harmon's experience tells him that he can complete his two-hundred mile run safely and then turn the vehicle over to the shop for repairs.

Running with a wheel seal leaking can pose a problem. As the oil leaks into the drum, the first thing that will happen is this: There will be a loss of braking power. Then, as the brakes get hot, the oil will turn into a thick, sticky mess. The sludge will tend to keep the brake shoe stuck against the brake drum. This can cause a wheel lockup, especially on wet ground. Harmon knows of this problem, but he also knows that if he takes it easy during the trip he will make it back to the yard. (If the leak had been severe, Harmon would have had it repaired immediately. A severe leak could cause him to lose all the lubricant out of his rear end housings and that would have made his wheel bearings and rear end gears run dry and burn up or "seize up." That would have been an extremely costly failure, and it could have resulted in repair costs in the area of $1500 to $1800.)

Having satisfied himself that the wheel seal leakage is minor, he continues with his inspection. He checks the mirrors along with the windshield, wipers and door glass. Then, he checks for tools, chains, binders, fire extinguisher, fuses, spare bulbs, flares and reflectors.

Moving around the vehicle, his eyes sweep the frame for cracks or springs, and the brake drums and slack adjuster for proper brake adjustment. Since Harmon has no co-driver to check the brakes with him, he puts the rig in gear and moves it about 20 feet. While the rig is rolling, he sets his parking brake on the tractor. Next, he repeats the procedure with his trailer. Both sets of brakes lockup and hold properly.

The speedometer reading at the beginning of the day is 173,702. At the end it is 174,222. After filling out the forms for Harmon, answer the following questions:
  1. Did Harmon perform a thorough pre-trip inspection? Explain why or why not.

  2. If the inspection was a post-trip inspection, was it thorough? Explain.

  3. What items listed on the form did Harmon fail to check adequately or at all?

  4. Would you have handled the leakage problem as Harmon did? Why or why not?
Vehicle Inspection No. 2 - Benny Guiterez, Driver: Now let us look at another driver. This driver takes things for granted. We'll call him Benny Guiterez. Benny drives an older style tractor-trailer unit for Natural Oak Furniture Company in Los Angeles, California. The tractor (#P-46) is a Pete and the trailer (#P-46AM) is a Utility warehouse van. He is one of only two drivers who have hired on with the company, so he doesn't have a supervisor breathing down his neck. He can pretty much do things the way he wants.

Benny begins by checking the oil, fuel and water. It needs a gallon of oil. Benny adds it. Then, he starts up the rig. While it is idling, he checks the lights and tires, and the trailer side doors to see that they are locked.

He climbs back into the cab and takes another minute to check the oil pressure and air pressure. He checks his speedometer reading. It is 565,432. For Benny, this is a typical pre-trip inspection. He feels it is sufficient.

Then, Benny puts the rig in gear, and before the engine is even warmed up, he heads out of the driveway. Just as he is turning onto the street, his tractor shoots out from under the trailer, dropping the loaded trailer on its nose, blocking the driveway entrance and most of the street.

After filling out the forms for Benny, answer the following questions.
  1. A check that Benny failed to make caused the trailer to end up on its nose. What check was that?

  2. How long do you think Benny's pre-trip inspection took?

  3. What other checks did Benny fail to make?

  4. How typical do you think Benny's inspection is in the trucking business?

  5. Why don't all truckers make a thorough check of their rigs before they start out and at the end of the day?

  6. What can be done about that?

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