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Are truck drivers required to inspect their trucks regularly?

Most people understand that large commercial trucks pose a hazard to other people on the roadways. Because of their massive size, even small mistakes can cause a serious and deadly truck accident. Therefore, these complicated machines need precise handling and maintenance in order to be as safe as possible. As we explained in a recent blog post, federal regulations require truck owners to have the truck examined on a periodic basis. This inspection helps to ensure that is in good working condition and does not pose a threat to others on the roadways.

However, Tennessee residents might be interested to know that this is not the only inspection that a commercial truck should undergo. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, truck drivers also have the responsibility to inspect the truck before operation.

Under section 396.13 of the FMCSA regulations, truck drivers must perform three tasks before driving a commercial motor vehicle. First, the driver must know that the truck is in safe operating condition. Under section 396.11, this includes an inspection of many of the truck's main components including the horn, the wheels and rims, the service break, windshield wipers, mirrors, lights and other emergency equipment.

Second, under section 396.13, the driver must review the driver inspection report for the truck that was prepared by the last driver of the vehicle. This should give the driver an idea of how the vehicles is working.

Finally, the driver must sign the report. This ensures that the driver has reviewed the vehicles inspection report, that any defects have been noted and that the truck has undergone required repairs.

If the driver fails to perform an inspection and an accident occurs because of negligent truck maintenance, the driver may be found negligent. In this case, the driver could be liable to accident victims in civil court. In these situations, specific legal advice -- which this post cannot provide -- should be sought.

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