Daily Pre-Start Checks for Truck Drivers: Ensuring Safety on the Road

As a truck driver, it’s essential to prioritise safety when operating a vehicle. Pre-start checks are a crucial part of the daily routine that drivers must follow to ensure that their truck is in good working condition before they hit the road. Regular checks can prevent accidents, reduce repair costs, and extend the lifespan of the vehicle. In this blog, we’ll explore the importance of daily pre-start checks for truck drivers, the components of a pre-start checklist, and best practices to ensure safety on the road.

Importance of Daily Pre-Start Checks

Daily pre-start checks for truck drivers are essential to ensure that the vehicle is in safe and reliable condition before starting a journey. Failing to perform these checks can lead to accidents, breakdowns, and costly repairs. By conducting pre-start checks, drivers can identify any potential issues before they become bigger problems. This proactive approach to maintenance can help keep drivers safe and avoid unexpected downtime.

Daily Pre-Start Checks for Truck Drivers

Components of a Pre-Start Checklist

A daily pre-start checklist is a comprehensive list of all the components that a truck driver must check before starting the vehicle. The following are the main components of a pre-start checklist:

1. Exterior Checks

The first step in a pre-start check is to inspect the exterior of the vehicle. This includes checking the lights, mirrors, tires, brakes, and bodywork for any damage. The driver must ensure that the mirrors are correctly positioned, and the lights are all functioning correctly. They should also check the tires for any punctures, bulges, or damage and ensure that the brake pads are in good condition.

2. Engine Checks

The next step is to check the engine of the vehicle. This includes checking the oil, coolant, and brake fluid levels. Checking the fuel and electrical systems and checking all hoses and belts. The driver should also check for any leaks, strange noises, or smoke coming from the engine. If there are any issues, the driver should report them to the maintenance team immediately.

3. Interior Checks

The third step is to check the interior of the truck. This includes checking the seatbelts, horn, dashboard, and steering wheel. The driver must ensure that the seatbelt is in good working condition and that the horn is functioning correctly. They should also check the dashboard for any warning lights, such as the low fuel warning light, and ensure that the steering wheel is not damaged. The driver should adjust the seat for comfort and functionality and set the mirrors.

4. Safety Equipment Checks

The fourth step is to check all safety equipment on the truck. This includes checking the fire extinguisher, first aid kit, and emergency triangles. The driver must ensure that all safety equipment is in good working condition and that there are enough emergency triangles to meet the legal requirements.

5. Operational Checks

The final step in a pre-start check is to perform operational checks on the truck. This involves checking the wheels, steering, transmission, and brakes to ensure that they are functioning correctly and conducting a tug test to ensure the trailer is securely attached to the truck.

When conducting daily pre-start checks it’s recommended to follow a logical sequence to ensure that every component is inspected thoroughly and nothing is missed. This logical sequence can also help drivers establish a routine and make it easier to remember what needs to be checked.

What Does a Daily Pre-Start Check for Truck Drives Look Like?

When developing a pre-start checklist for truck drivers and your vehicle fleet it is important to seek out the requirements made by your regulator. In Australia that is the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) and in North America United States Department of Transportation (DOT) and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).

Below is an example of a daily pre-stat checklist for a truck.

It is important to include all trailing equipment when performing daily pre-start checks

External Checks:

  1. Body and Structures – Look for any loose or damaged panels and components and visible structures are secure.
  2. Air Tank Drain Valves – Check drain valves are operational.
  3. Lights and Reflectors – Check all lights including headlights, tail lights, brake lights, indicators and width lights to ensure that they are properly working. Check reflectors and lenses are present and in good condition.
  4. Windshield – Check for cleanliness, cracks and chips.
  5. Mirrors – Ensure all mirrors are clean and free from cracks or damage.
  6. Tires – Check the tire pressure, tread depth, and overall condition of each tire.
  7. Wheels, Rims, and Hubs – Inspect the wheels, rims, and hubs for any damage or signs of wear. Check the lug nuts for security and correct tightness.
  8. Driveline/Driveshaft – Inspect the driveline/driveshaft for any damage or signs of wear and ensure that it is properly lubricated.
  9. Suspensions – Inspect the suspensions for any damage, and ensure that they are properly lubricated.
  10. Brake Systems – Inspect the brake system for any signs of damage or wear.
  11. Coupling Devices – • Check that the fifth wheel/ballrace and associated mountings are secure, the towbar, drawbar, and couplings are securely mounted, and the trailer coupling is secure (if applicable). Ensure that the kingpin is correctly engaged in the fifth wheel jaws and that all airlines, electrical connectors, and any ABS/EBS connectors are correctly attached to the trailer (if applicable).
  12. Cargo – Check that all cargo is centred, and the weight is distributed evenly and secured to prevent shifting.

Engine Bay Checks:

  1. Fluids and Belts – Check the engine oil level, coolant level, brake fluid level, windscreen wiper washer fluid level, belts, and hoses.
  2. Battery and Electrical System – Check the battery and electrical system for any signs of wear or damage. Ensure that the battery is properly secured and the electrical system is functioning properly.
  3. Exhaust Systems – Check for any leaks or damage in the exhaust system.
  4. Fuel Systems – Check for any leaks or damage in the fuel system, and ensure that the fuel cap is securely fastened.

Cabin Checks:

  1. Mirrors – Check that they are adjusted correctly.
  2. Seat Belt – Check that the seat belt is in good condition and functioning properly.
  3. Storage – Check all items are stored and there are no loose items in the cabin.
  4. Emergency Devices – Check the horn, hazard lights and any other in-cab emergency devices.
  5. Dashboard Warning Lights – Check for dashboard warning lights This includes the check engine light, oil pressure light, and any other warning lights.
  6. Gauges – Check the gauges to ensure that they are functioning correctly.
  7. Air Pressure – Check that there is enough air pressure to operate the brakes.
  8. Brake Function – Test the brakes to ensure that they are functioning correctly. This includes testing both the service brakes and trailer brakes.
  9. Steering Mechanisms – Test the steering to ensure it is working properly, including the steering wheel, steering column, and steering linkage.
  10. Windshield Wipers – Check the windshield wipers and washers are functioning properly.

Emergency Equipment:

  1. Fire Extinguisher – Check that a fire extinguisher(s) is present, serviced and properly secured.
  2. Warning Triangles – Check that warning triangles are present and in good condition.
  3. First Aid Kit – Check that a first aid kit is present and in good condition.

Operational Checks:

Once the area is clear and free of hazards, the driver should continue with operational checks by checking the following:

  1. Wheels, Steering, and Transmission – Drive forward and reverse slowly and check for any issues with the wheels, steering, brakes, and transmission. This includes checking for any unusual noises, vibrations, or resistance.
  2. Braking – Test the brakes again while driving forward at a slow speed. This includes testing both the service brakes and the emergency brakes. Ensure that the brakes engage smoothly and that there are no unusual noises or vibrations. Also, check the park brake to ensure thr park brake holds the vehicle.
  3. Tug Test – Park the vehicle on level ground, release the parking brake and pull forward slowly while the trailer brakes are applied until the tug of the trailer. Ensure that the trailer brakes are engaging correctly.

It’s important to note that the pre-start checklist provided above is just an example. Pre-start checklists can be customised by adding or removing list items to fit your requirements.

Other important information to include on the daily pre-start checklist is the date of the inspection, the time of the inspection, the driver’s name, the truck ID and the ID of any trailing equipment.

To ensure proper record-keeping and accountability, it’s important to include certain information on the daily pre-start checklist. This includes the date and time of the inspection, as well as the driver’s name and the identification numbers of the truck and any trailing equipment. By including this information, drivers can easily track their inspections and provide documentation if required.

Below: Digital Daily Pre-Start Checks for Truck Drivers by DIGI CLIP mobile forms

Heavy vehicle Pre-Start Checks

DIGI CLIP mobile forms provide digital safety, compliance & inspections checklists

Best Practices for Daily Pre-Start Checks

To ensure that daily pre-start checks are performed effectively, truck drivers must follow best practices. The following are some of the best practices for daily pre-start checks:

1. Standardise the Pre-Start Checklist

To ensure that pre-start checks are performed consistently and thoroughly, it’s essential to standardize the pre-start checklist. A standardised checklist ensures that all components are checked, and nothing is missed. The checklist should be tailored to the specific make and model of the truck and include all relevant components.

2. Use Technology to Simplify the Process

Truck drivers can use technology to simplify the pre-start check process. For instance, they can use an app to complete the checklist electronically. This can save time and reduce errors, as the app can automatically flag any missed components. It can also keep a record of completed checklists, making it easier to track maintenance history.

3. When do Conduct a Daily Pre-Start Check

Before beginning any journey, truck drivers should take the time to perform a thorough pre-start check of their vehicle. This check ensures that the truck is in safe and proper working condition and can help prevent accidents on the road. Conducting a daily pre-start check should be standard practice for all truck drivers, regardless of how familiar they are with their vehicles.

It is also important to conduct a pre-start check if the truck has been parked for an extended period or if it has undergone maintenance or repairs. In these cases, it is crucial to verify that everything is in proper working order before the truck enters the road network.

4. Report Any Issues Immediately

If a driver identifies any issues during pre-start checks, they must report them to the maintenance team immediately. Ignoring or postponing repairs can lead to bigger problems down the line, potentially causing accidents or breakdowns. By reporting issues promptly, the maintenance team can address them quickly and prevent them from becoming more significant issues.

5. Take a Proactive Approach to Maintenance

Daily pre-start for truck drivers checks should be part of a proactive approach to maintenance. By taking care of the vehicle on a daily basis, drivers can reduce the likelihood of unexpected breakdowns or repairs. Regular maintenance, such as oil changes and tire rotations, can also extend the lifespan of the vehicle and improve fuel efficiency.

Digital Truck Daily Pre-Start Checks

While conducting daily pre-start checks manually can be time-consuming and prone to human error, adopting digital checklists can significantly improve the efficiency and accuracy of pre-start inspections. Digital checklists are becoming increasingly popular in the transportation industry as they can streamline the inspection process.

Digital checklists allow drivers to conduct inspections quickly and easily on a mobile device or tablet. The checklists can be customised to include specific checks and procedures, and drivers can record their observations, attach photos and add a digital signature for accountability. Digital checklists also have the advantage of being submitted to a cloud-based software with a central database, providing real-time reporting and analysis of inspections.

Implementing digital checklists can improve the accuracy of inspections, reduce errors, and provide managers with real-time information on the status of their fleet. Digital checklists can also provide an audit trail of inspections, making it easier to demonstrate compliance with regulations in the event of an audit or investigation.


Daily pre-start checks for truck drivers are an essential part of ensuring safety on the road. By performing regular checks, drivers can identify potential issues before they become bigger problems. Standardising the pre-start checklist, using technology to simplify the process, scheduling checks at regular intervals, reporting issues promptly, and taking a proactive approach to maintenance are all best practices that can help keep drivers safe and reduce downtime. Remember, safety should always be the top priority for truck drivers.

DIGI CLIP mobile forms – What Do We Do?

DIGI CLIP mobile forms is an easy-to-use inexpensive digital checklist & inspection app and cloud-based software. DIGI CLIP is used across different industries to capture safety and compliance data and other information to help improve safety, compliance and operational efficiencies.

DIGI CLIP will allow you to remove paper reporting from your business – no more lost, late missing or illegible checklists. The DIGI CLIP mobile app allows images, comments and digital signatures to be added to checklists from a phone or tablet.

DIGI CLIP has a Form Library where you can access all of your checklists, inspections and more ready for use. All checklists and inspections can be edited or updated to meet your risk and operational requirements.

DIGI CLIP also has a safety management module called Safety Tracker. Safety Tracker is our incident and hazard reporting and management software application that adds to DIGI CLIP mobile forms. Incidents and hazards are reported via the DIGI CLIP app or directly on the cloud-based software. Incident and quality Investigations and hazard assessments are completed on templates provided by DIGI CLIP and corrective and closeout actions are tracked by the cloud-based software.

Follow this link if you want to know more about what we do and how we can help or send us a message.

Streamline your safety, compliance & inspection checks with the DIGI CLIP mobile checklist app today.

checklist and inspections app - DIGI CLIP mobile forms

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Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general informational purposes only. It is not intended to provide legal, financial, or other professional advice, nor is it intended to replace the advice of a qualified professional. The author and publisher disclaim any liability for any direct, indirect, or consequential damages arising from the use of or reliance on the information provided in this article. Readers are advised to seek the advice of a qualified professional for any specific concerns or questions related to their business operations or compliance with relevant regulations.