In the past, companies that owned trucks that were found to be unsafe were fined quite heavily by the Department of Transport. Since late 2010, this situation was changed along with the way truck owners and truck drivers were assessed for safety. Now, if a DOT inspection finds faults with a truck, those faults are recorded against the truck owners, AND the truck driver. This means a truck driver could find their license under suspension if they continue to drive unsafe trucks.
To avoid this problem, truck drivers now need to pay far more attention to their pre-trip inspections, and, more importantly, to report any issue, even the smallest, to the trucks owners. The truck owners are then responsible for ensuring these problems are resolved as soon as practical. So why make these changes?
Truck driving laws have been significantly tightened over the last ten years in an attempt to reduce the number of accidents that occur each year. It is estimated that over 3000 people die each year as a result of accidents that involve trucks. It should be pointed out that many of these deaths are the result of poor driving by the victims in their motor vehicles, in particular drink driving, speed, and maneuvers such as overtaking in dangerous situations. However, if ten percent of those who died are as a result of truck driver problems, then 300 deaths is still too many.
Making truck drivers responsible for ensuring their trucks are safe before leaving on a long trip is placing an extra load on their shoulders, but then, there is also the argument that if a driver is aware of certain issues with their truck, they can modify their driving to counter any problems. Whichever way you swing in the argument, what is important is that a thorough pre-trip inspection is a must, and that problems must be reported. Pre-trip inspections should be a part of all truck driver training programs; if it isn’t a part of yours, then you should be questioning the value of your training.