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Safety guides and audits to make your job as a safety professional easier

Vehicle Selection and Maintenance

Vehicle Selection and Assignment


It is important to ensure that the vehicles you select for a specific function are adequate in design and capability for the intended purpose.

It is the responsibility of each driver to select the appropriate vehicle to be used in performing their tasks. Make sure your employees keep all vehicles well maintained and in safe and efficient operating condition at all times.

For the latest information on crash test ratings and other important vehicle safety information, visit To report a concern about a defect or problem with your vehicle, contact the NHTSA Auto Safety Hotline at: 1-888-DASH-2-DOT.

Where practical, consider adopting a "one driver, one vehicle"; strategy. Assignment to a single vehicle instills a sense of responsibility and ownership. Also, a worker who operates the same vehicle each day may more easily identify potential mechanical problems with that vehicle.

1. The "one driver, one vehicle" strategy tends to instill in the driver a sense of _____.

a. assignment
b. responsibility and ownership
c. appreciation
d. devotion

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Vehicle Maintenance Program

It is vitally important that you implement a comprehensive vehicle maintenance program. Your fleet maintenance program should include:

  1. pre-trip vehicle inspections for key potential problem areas,
  2. immediate withdrawal from service for any vehicle with mechanical problems, and
  3. periodic withdrawal from service for comprehensive inspection and scheduled maintenance.

Federal motor carrier regulations under 49 CFR 396 contain a list of commercial motor vehicle systems and parts that must be inspected.

2. What is the correct action when mechanical problems with a vehicle become apparent?

a. Monitor the problem carefully
b. Immediately withdraw the vehicle from service
c. Make a note of the mechanical problem in the vehicle log
d. Inform the next driver of the vehicle

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Preventive and Corrective Maintenance


A good preventive maintenance program lowers repair frequency and lowers overall maintenance cost. The service portion of Preventive Maintenance is actually scheduled maintenance.

Prior to requiring or permitting a driver to operate a vehicle, the employer must repair any defect or deficiency listed on the driver vehicle inspection report which would be likely to affect the safety of operation of the vehicle.

The employer should certify on the original driver vehicle inspection report that the identified defect or deficiency has been repaired or that repair is unnecessary before the vehicle is operated again.

The employer must maintain the original driver vehicle inspection report, the certification of repairs, and the certification of the driver's review for three months from the date the written report was prepared.

3. Which of the following programs lowers repair frequency and overall maintenance cost?

a. Annual inspection
b. Optimal servicing
c. Preventive maintenance
d. Corrective maintenance

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Driver Vehicle Inspection Report(s)


You should require drivers to report on the condition of the vehicles they operate. Each driver should prepare a report in writing at the completion of each day's work on each vehicle operated. The report should cover at least the following parts and accessories:

  • Service brakes including trailer brake connections
  • Parking (hand) brake
  • Steering mechanism
  • Lighting devices and reflectors
  • Tires
  • Horn
  • Windshield wipers
  • Rear vision mirrors
  • Coupling devices
  • Wheels and rims
  • Emergency equipment

Each report should identify the vehicle and list any defect or deficiency discovered by or reported to the driver which would affect the safety of operation of the vehicle or result in its mechanical breakdown.

If no defect or deficiency is discovered, the report should so indicate. The driver should sign the report. On two-driver operations, only one driver needs to sign the driver vehicle inspection report, provided both drivers agree as to the defects or deficiencies identified. If a driver operates more than one vehicle during the day, a report should be prepared for each vehicle operated


4. What action is required if no defect or deficiency is discovered after a driver has used a vehicle?

a. The report would be voluntary
b. An abbreviated report may be submitted
c. Indicate the condition on the report
d. None - a report is not required

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Driver On-The-Road Inspections

Once on the road, the driver should examine any cargo and its load securing devices and make any necessary adjustments.

If a problem is found, the driver should notify his/her supervisor and either have the necessary repairs or adjustments made prior to operating the vehicle, or safely travel to the nearest repair facility.

5. What should the driver do if a vehicle problem is discovered while on the road?

a. Do nothing and hope you make it to the destination
b. Closely monitor the problem to see if it worsens
c. Inform the supervisor, make repairs, or drive to the nearest repair facility
d. Inform the supervisor and continue on to the designation

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Pre-Trip Inspections


In the most effective Fleet Safety Programs, the company is committed to following a strong daily inspection program. All vehicles are inspected every day they are operated.

Each driver should be satisfied that his/her assigned vehicle is in proper working condition prior to operating. Each driver should also be satisfied that any cargo is properly distributed and secured.

The driver should also review the last completed Driver's Vehicle Inspection Report to verify that any needed repairs were made to the vehicle. If the defects noted were not acknowledged by an authorized signature, the driver should not drive the vehicle until the defects are handled appropriately.

When a driver reports safety related problems or vehicle damage, the vehicle inspection report should be submitted to his/her Supervisor. The Supervisor should sign the report indicating that repairs have been made (or are not required to be made). The original inspection report and certification of repairs should be retained in the Vehicle Maintenance File.

The original inspection reports on which no defects were noted and on which defects were noted, and the certification of repairs, will be retained in the Vehicle Maintenance File.

Sample Pre-Trip Inspection

6. What should a driver do upon realizing that the defects noted on the previous driver's Vehicle Inspection Report have not been acknowledged by an authorized signature?

a. The operator should do nothing
b. The operator should report it after the trip
c. The operator should not drive the vehicle
d. The operator should issue demerits to the previous driver

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Vehicle Maintenance File


The employer should keep a complete record on each vehicle in the fleet. It should include basic vehicle information and information indicating the nature and due date of any inspection and maintenance operations to be performed on the vehicle, and a record of any inspections, repairs and maintenance performed on the vehicle in question, including dates performed and specifics on the nature of the operations.

Make sure you maintain the following information for every vehicle you have for 30 days or more:

  • Identifying information
  • Schedule of inspections
  • Records of tests conducted on buses with push-out windows, emergency doors and marking lights

7. Make sure you maintain vehicle maintenance records for every vehicle you have for _____.

a. 10 days or longer
b. 30 days or more
c. at least 45 days
d. more than six months

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When the Vehicle Breaks Down

Driver's responsibilities when a breakdown happens include:

  • Safely stopping and securing the vehicle and load
  • Safely placing the warning devices
  • Diagnosing and calling in the breakdown to his/her Supervisor

Supervisor responsibilities when a breakdown occurs include:

  • Determining the nature of the breakdown and best course of action
  • Locating, contacting, and dispatching a vendor to facilitate repairs
  • Obtaining all vehicle repair records

8. When a vehicle breaks down, who is responsible for locating, contacting, and dispatching a vendor for repair?

a. Operator
b. Supervisor
c. Line manager
d. Safety manager

Check your Work

Read the material in each section to find the correct answer to each quiz question. After answering all the questions, click on the "Check Quiz Answers" button to grade your quiz and see your score. You will receive a message if you forgot to answer one of the questions. After clicking the button, the questions you missed will be listed below. You can correct any missed questions and check your answers again.

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