As the owner or operator of a business that depends on a fleet of vehicles to serve customers, you likely know how important it is to ace your DOT inspections. Being properly prepared is critical, as DOT inspections can occur at any location at any point in time. Further, with a growing number of state DOT’s partnering with public safety and support organizations, the focus on improving the DOT Inspection Form is stronger than ever. Below is a look at some of the challenges associated with old paper versions of the form and how the new and improved DOT Inspection Form paves the way for superb efficiency and accuracy.
There are 6 Levels of DOT Inspection Fleet Managers Must Know. Understanding these six levels is the first step on the path to boosting compliance with a new and improved DOT inspection form. Here is a brief summary of the six levels:
Level 1 – North American Standard Inspection (NAS): The most comprehensive level of inspection, requiring substantial documentation
Level 2 – Walk-Around Driver and Vehicle Inspection: Features most of the same criteria as Level 1 excepting undercarriage inspections
Level 3 – Driver Only Inspection: Involves an in-depth review of driver logbooks, overloaded permits, and driver documentation
Level 4 – Special Inspection: Often involves inspection of a single piece of equipment that is known to cause vehicle failure
Level 5 – Vehicle Only Inspection: Uses the same criteria as Level 1 but occurs without the driver being present
Level 6 – Enhanced NAS Inspection for Radioactive Shipments: Applies only to vehicles in the radioactive hauling industry
The old versions of the DOT Inspection Form are paper-based and require manual entry of information by the driver or inspection agent. There are often multiple touch points as information is entered into the forms and passed from drivers to mechanics to the ultimate recipient. Here are some of the key characteristics of the old paper inspection forms:
Manual data entry: The driver must enter the carrier name, date, time, address, tractor/truck number and odometer reading by hand
Alphabetized checkpoint entry: Checkpoints are placed in alphabetical order twice; once for the truck and then a second time for the trailer
Minimal space for written comments: Any comments or notes must be condensed within a predefined amount of space on the form
Manual transmittal to the mechanic: Forms are manually handed from drivers to mechanics
Hand-written signatures and dates: Individuals must sign and date reports prior to submitting them
Manually entering information on paper reports presents a host of challenges that can impact a company’s efficiency and accuracy. For starters, providing handwritten information always increases the likelihood of errors. In some cases, errors are the result of incorrect information being supplied. In other cases, managers make errors when attempting to decipher handwriting or content. Here are some of the biggest challenges associated with paper DOT inspection forms:
In a perfect world, handwritten reports would be clear and easy to read. Words would be spelled correctly and managers who review the reports would be able to decipher every word. But in the world of logistics and written reporting this is rarely the case and reports can be hard to read.
Paper reporting requires a driver to keep track of paperwork and writing implements. Completing the reports can be a time-consuming and redundant process, with drivers required to write down the same vehicle information over and over again with each new report.
In spite of taking a long time to complete, paper reports often fail to convey critical details regarding the inspection process. For example, there is no way to provide a photo on a paper report and users only have a finite amount of space to leave comments.
Paper reports can easily be misplaced or lost as they are passed back and forth to mechanics and managers. They can even be swept away by a gust of wind or ruined if dropped in a roadside puddle. Even reports that make it into the hands of an office manager can be mistakenly discarded or misplaced.
The new and improved DOT inspection form is fully automated, which helps to minimize completion time and boost accuracy. Additionally, the forms offer unparalleled convenience for users, who no longer need to spend time searching their vehicles for paperwork and pens. Here is a summary of the qualities offered by the new DOT inspection forms, along with the benefits enjoyed by all parties involved in the inspection process:
Full automation: The new form eliminates the need to provide the same details time and time again on reports
Convenience: Auto dating and time stamping, along with the ability to complete the forms electronically help drivers return to the road faster
Enhanced checkpoint design: Checkpoints are designed to enable drivers to walk in a single fluid movement around vehicles to save time
Hands free features: The new inspection format enables users to take photos and provide feedback via voice to text
Access to reporting history: Users are able to quickly view previous reports to improve continuity of care for vehicles
New and improved DOT inspection forms offer a host of benefits while addressing key concerns associated with yesterday’s paper forms. By offering full automation and an exciting array of new features such as image capturing and voice to text, users are able to complete reports faster and with a greater degree of accuracy. We invite you to contact us at Whip Around to see our new and improved DOT inspection form yourself. Our team of transportation solution experts will help your business transition from a paper-based system to a more efficient digital reporting system. We look forward to helping your organization thrive!
To learn more about Whip Around’s fleet inspection and maintenance solution, reach out for a free demo or free trial today.