Topical Tuesday: The 9 Word “Pre-Trip Vehicle Inspection”

Mike Green in his dad's truckWe are delighted to present a new feature, Topical Tuesday: thoughts on trucking-related subjects by contributing writers. Today we have as Guest Blogger Mike Green. A driver for many years (that’s Mike as a youngster in his dad’s truck), Mike went on to direct truck driver training programs and served as a Third Party tester from the beginning of the program in Arizona. He is now “semi”-retired (and if you know him, you know the pun is intended) from HDS Truck Driving Institute in Tucson, Arizona. As a freelance writer and editor, he has been a regular contributor to Bumper to Bumper, The Complete Guide to Tractor-Trailer Operations. He says that although he enjoyed all those years of teaching, he loves retirement.

Today we bring you “The 9 Word ‘Pre-Trip Vehicle Inspection’” by Mike Green

My dad was a truck driver and as a kid I used to watch him walk around his truck and trailer checking it out before he left on a trip. When I asked him what he was looking for, he told me he was just checking to make sure everything was on there tight and nothing was broken or leaking.

After driving a truck over-the-road for ten years myself, I began teaching others how for over two decades now. When the “Pre-trip Vehicle Inspection” became more formal with the advent of the federally mandated Commercial Drivers License (CDL) program in the 1990’s, I found that this particular test was difficult for some students to learn because of the many items to inspect and the many words there are to say about those items.

I generally try to simplify things as much as practical when teaching and found myself helping students master this test by turning my dad’s words into:

The 9 Word “Pre-trip Vehicle Inspection”

  • Securely attached
  • No damage
  • No missing parts
  • No leaks

Obviously those nine words are not enough to pass the test, but when you learn what to inspect and why, knowing these words comes in handy when you need something to say about that item during the test.

For example: “I am checking _______ to make sure that it is securely attached, and has no damage and no missing parts, and no leaks (if it has air or fluid in it).” You may be surprised to discover how many items there are on the test where that statement applies.

Basically, like my dad said, make sure everything is on there tight and nothing is broken or leaking. In my experience, when a student starts thinking of an inspection this way and learns those nine words, they become a little less anxious about what to say during this verbal test.


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