Roofing contractors face some unique challenges to keep their drivers and the public safe when transporting materials, equipment and personnel to and from job sites. And insurance companies that insure construction industry clientele report vehicle-related claims remain major liability exposures in the roofing industry. Clearly, proper training, supervision and discipline of company drivers are foundational elements of any comprehensive fleet safety program. However, one of the most neglected requirements of a program intended to ensure safe operation of commercial vehicles is the driver vehicle inspection report (DVIR).
The requirements for a daily DVIR are contained in Title 49 Code of Federal Regulations Part 396 of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSR). The rules essentially codify regular inspection, repair and maintenance procedures to be followed for all commercial vehicles. For this purpose, a commercial motor vehicle is defined as any self-propelled or towed motor vehicle used on a highway in interstate commerce to transport passengers or property and having a gross vehicle weight rating, gross combination weight rating, gross vehicle weight or gross combination weight of 10,001 pounds (4536 kg) or more. Additionally, the rules apply to any vehicle, regardless of weight, used in the transportation of quantities of hazardous materials subject to placard rules.
FMCSR compel a company to require its drivers to prepare a written report, the DVIR, at the end of the day for each commercial vehicle the driver operated during the day. At a minimum, the DVIR must contain information about each of the following 11 vehicle parts and accessories:
Any defect or deficiency a driver discovers must be reported if it could affect a vehicle's safe operation or result in a mechanical breakdown. If a driver does not find any defect or deficiency, the report should indicate that fact. A driver must sign all daily DVIRs. Blank DVIR forms are widely available for purchase from a number of sources, but you can develop a form tailored to your company as long as it contains the required inspection points and has an area for a driver signature and repair certification. As a practical matter, the form should be prepared in duplicate or triplicate for record retention and follow-up purposes.
DVIRs are turned in to your company, and the original copy must be retained for a minimum of three months from the report date. Each defect or deficiency listed on the DVIR must be repaired by your company or its agent (usually a repair facility or mechanic) before requiring or permitting a driver to operate the vehicle. The person repairing the defect or deficiency must certify on the original DVIR form that the repairs have been completed or repair is unnecessary. A company with only one commercial motor vehicle does not have to comply with the DVIR process. Most states have adopted provisions similar to the FMCSR for vehicles operated within a state. However, some do not provide the one-vehicle exemption.
Before driving a commercial motor vehicle, a driver must review the most recent DVIR and sign it if defects or deficiencies were noted. A driver only should sign a DVIR that notes defects and deficiencies if repairs have been performed and certified by a mechanic's signature. If repairs have not been certified or the driver is not convinced the vehicle is in safe operating condition, the driver should not operate the vehicle or sign the DVIR.
The DVIR process required by FMCSR is a relatively simple procedure intended to discover and repair vehicle defects so they do not cause or contribute to an accident. The process also fosters administrative controls over vehicle maintenance and repairs by mandating a paper trail that originates with the person most qualified to assess safe vehicle operation—the driver.
Harry Dietz is NRCA's director of risk management.