Commercial Vehicle Safety Checklist

by Rick Chaney
itstillruns article image
Cargo truck image by Canakris from

Commercial vehicles constantly have to meet Federal and state safety laws. A commercial vehicle safety checklist, also known as a pre-trip inspection, is a driver's obligation to ensure that his vehicle is safe. Items included on a commercial vehicle checklist are also what the Department Of Transportation inspects at weigh stations and safety checkpoints.

Engine Compartment

Under the hood, start by looking for any radiator leaks, check the coolant level and tighten the radiator cap. Inspect the fan for bent blades or loose mountings. Test belts for correct tension or signs of wear. Check the oil level plus the brake and power-steering fluids. Scrutinize the battery electrolyte levels and check for any signs of corrosion or cracks. Thoroughly look over the entire engine compartment for leaks, damage or hazards.


Within the cab, check seat adjustments to ensure they are in the correct position for the driver to reach the pedals and dashboard easily. Verify that seatbelts are in working order and that they show no signs of wear. Set the rear view mirror and wing mirrors to the correct angles. Confirm that the vehicle has the correct registration certificate, logbook and insurance documents. Secure any any tools or personal items in the vehicle.

Start the Engine

Make sure the engine runs smoothly, with no knocking or abnormal noises. Check the hand throttle, choke and accelerator pedal. Inspect the dashboard instruments and windshield wipers. Test for any unusual noises or knocking sounds while the clutch is engaged. With commercial vehicles using air brakes, test the brake pressure. You must be familiar with what is adequate for your particular air-braking system.


Walk around the vehicle to inspect each tire for proper air pressure. Look for any excessive tire wear, inspect each rim for damage and make sure mud flaps are attached on both the vehicle and trailer. Check headlights, turn signal lamps, brake lights and running lights. Ensure that the vehicle license plates and any required DOT plaques are visible and secure.

More Articles

article divider