What is a Driver Vehicle Inspection Report (DVIR)?

October 25, 2021


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Key Takeaways

Driver vehicle inspection reports (DVIR) helps organizations stay on top of potential vehicle defects or issues. Besides being required by the FMCSA to stay within compliance, DVIR can prevent vehicle downtime and loss of revenue. Learn more about DVIRs, exemptions, and how the process works.

What is a driver vehicle inspection report (DVIR)?

The DVIR is the formal record that confirms a driver has inspected their commercial motor vehicle (CMV) before and after taking it out on the road. These are called pre-trip and post-trip inspections. Drivers must complete a DVIR for each vehicle every day of its use.

A DVIR’s main purpose is to alert organizations of potential defects or issues that could impact the safe operation of a vehicle. The DVIR provides documentation of the defect so fleet managers take steps to get the issue fixed, reassign drivers to other vehicles, and plan around maintenance.

Maintaining and managing inspection reports are an important part of fleet management and essential for DVIR compliance. 

DVIR regulations and oversight

In the United States, DVIRs are required by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), an agency within the Department of Transportation (DOT). There are two laws that regulate DVIRs.

Federal law 49 CFR §396.11 specifies that drivers must complete a DVIR on their vehicle at the end of their shift. If the driver operates more than one vehicle, a separate DVIR needs to be completed for each vehicle.

Federal law 49 CFR §396.13 outlines that drivers must review that last DVIR completed on the vehicle. If any defects are noted, they must be inspected and signed off.

In 2014, the FMCSA rescinded the requirement for interstate drivers of non-passenger carrying CMVs to submit an inspection report if no defects or deficiencies are found. DOT found that 95% of all DVIRs completed were listed as “no defects.” This update, which reduces the burden of collecting information without compromising safety, will save industries an estimated $1.7 billion annually.

DOT extended this ruling in 2020 by rescinding the order for interstate passenger-carrying CMVs, saving industries $74 million annually. While these changes affect organizations involved in interstate commerce, intrastate operators should check with state laws on the ruling.

Canadian DVIR regulation

Individual provinces in Canada regulate their own inspection rules. Currently, the no-defect ruling does not extend into Canada. U.S.-based drivers in Canada must complete a DVIR. Canada will also accept a previous day’s post-trip inspection report from the U.S., but it must be no more than 24 hours old.

Who needs to complete a DVIR?

DVIR regulation applies to most commercial vehicle drivers. This includes vehicles that:

  • Have a gross vehicle weight rating or gross combination weight rating of 4,537 kg (10,001 lb) or more, whichever is greater.

  • Are designed or used to transport between 9 and 15 passengers (including the driver) for compensation.

  • Are designed or used to transport 16 or more passengers.

  • Are designed for or used in transporting hazardous materials per the Hazardous Materials Transportation Act.

DVIR exemptions: Who’s exempt from regulation?

DVIR regulations do not apply to:

  • Private passenger motor carriers (non-business)

  • Driveaway-towaway operations

  • Any motor carrier operating a single commercial motor vehicle.

DVIR non-compliance and penalties

Violating DOT federal regulation comes with steep fines for failing to complete DVIR, falsifying records, and failing to repair reported defects. Penalties can range from up to $1270 per day to over $15,000.

Aside from the fines, non-compliance with DVIR regulations can result in a vehicle and driver being placed out of service in the event a defect or deficiency is uncovered during a roadside inspection. Besides the loss revenue from unexpected vehicle downtime, being placed out of service can affect a carrier’s CSA scores, damaging their reputation.

How long do organizations have to keep DVIR?

To stay in compliance, fleet managers must maintain DVIR, certification of repairs, and the driver's review for three months from the date the original report was created.

How the DVIR process works

The inspection process can be completed in several steps.

  1. Inspect the vehicle. The driver conducts a walkaround examination of the vehicle. They must check under the hood, test brakes and lights, and look for other defects or damage. (See inspection report checklist.)

  2. Report defects. The driver must report any defects or deficiencies that could impact safe operation or lead to a breakdown.

  3. Sign-off. The driver must sign-off on the report and submit it to the motor carrier. If there are two drivers, only one needs to sign the DVIR as long as both drivers agree to the defects identified.

  4. Corrective action and certification of repairs. When a defect or deficiency is reported, the motor carrier must take immediate action to repair the vehicle issues that would affect safe operation. They must do this before allowing a driver to operate the CMV again. 

The carrier should also certify on the DVIR that identifies the problem that the defect or deficiency has been repaired (or that the repair is unnecessary.)

Inspection report checklist and content

CFR §396.11 specifies that the inspection report must include assessment of:

  • Brakes and air system

  • Steering mechanism

  • Lights and reflectors

  • Tires, wheels, and rims

  • Windshield wipers

  • Rear view mirrors

  • Coupling equipment and fifth wheels

  • Emergency equipment

  • Power unit and trailer (if applicable)

Electronic DVIRs

Electronic DVIRs (eDVIR) are paperless, digital versions of inspection reports. Just like with paper DVIRs, drivers must complete this report for their post-trip and pre-trip inspections and submit them electronically via smartphone or tablet mobile app. Without the burden of paperwork, eDVIRs help drivers efficiently complete inspections and share reports directly with mechanics. 

Today, many electronic DVIR are combined with an electronic logging device (ELD). These telematics devices record driving time, hours of service, miles driven, and real-time vehicle engine data. Together, they ensure that all FMCSA record keeping requirements are met.

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