The Importance of Truck Pre-Start Checklist Templates for Safety and Maintenance

As a truck owner or fleet manager, safety and maintenance should be a top priority. One way to ensure that your trucks are safe to operate and in good condition is by implementing pre-start checklists. These checklists help drivers identify potential issues before they become major problems and can improve your compliance and safety records. In this blog post, we’ll explore the importance of using pre-start checklists for truck safety and maintenance, with a focus on how to create a custom checklist template that is tailored to your fleet’s needs.

Creating a Custom Truck Pre-Start Checklist Template

Creating a Custom Truck Pre-Start Checklist Template To create a custom truck pre-start checklist, you need to identify the specific items that need to be checked on your fleet. The easiest way to do this is to break down the truck into different areas such as the engine, transmission, brakes, tyres, lights, and other equipment. Once you have identified the areas that need to be checked, you can create a custom template that includes all of the necessary items.

Step-by-Step Guide for Creating a Custom Truck Pre-Start Checklist

Creating a custom pre-start checklist is an essential step in ensuring that your fleet is operating safely and efficiently.

Here’s a step-by-step guide for creating a custom checklist:

  1. Identify the areas of the truck that need to be checked: The first step is to identify the areas of the truck that need to be checked before each journey. This may include items such as the engine, brakes, tires, lights, and other critical components.
  2. Break down each area into specific items that need to be inspected: Once you have identified the areas of the truck that need to be checked, the next step is to break each area down into specific items that need to be inspected. For example, under the engine area, you may include items such as checking the oil level, coolant level, electrical system and battery security.
  3. Create a checklist template that includes all of the necessary items: After identifying the specific items that need to be inspected, create a checklist template that includes all the necessary items. You may choose to use a digital or paper-based template, depending on what works best for your fleet.
  4. Standardise the checklist across the entire fleet to ensure consistency: To ensure consistency across the entire fleet, it’s essential to standardise the checklist. This means that each driver should be completing the same checklist, with the same items in the same order. Standardising the checklist also makes it easier to track and analyse data across the fleet.

Items Every Truck Pre-Start Checklist Should Include

The following truck pre-start checklist items are important because they help ensure the safety of the driver, the truck, and other road users. Overall, performing a thorough pre-start checklist is an important step in ensuring that a truck is safe to operate prior to entering the road network. Pre-start checklist items should include:

  1. Structure and Body Condition: This item involves inspecting the vehicle’s panels and readily visible structures to ensure they are secure and not damaged. This includes checking the doors, bumpers, and other body parts to ensure that they are properly attached and not loose.
  2. Lights and Reflectors: This item involves checking that all lights, including clearance lights, are operational and that reflectors and lenses are present and not faded, broken or damaged. Proper lighting is crucial for the safety of the driver and other road users, so it’s important to ensure that all lights are in good working order.
  3. Mirrors: This item involves checking that all mirrors are present, in good condition, secure, and appropriately adjusted. This includes checking both the side and rear-view mirrors, which are essential for the driver to have a clear view of the surrounding traffic.
  4. Windscreens and Windows: This item involves checking that all windows are operational and that the windshield wipers and washers are functioning to ensure a clear forward vision. Clear visibility is critical for safe driving, especially in adverse weather conditions.
  5. Horn: This item involves checking that the horn is operational. The horn is an essential safety device that alerts other drivers to the presence of the truck and can be used to signal danger.
  6. Brakes: This item involves checking the brake failure indicators, pressure/vacuum gauges, and air tank drain valves to ensure that they are operational. The brake system is one of the most critical safety components of a truck, and any issues with the brakes can result in accidents.
  7. Wheels, Tyres and Hubs: This item involves checking that the tyres are correctly inflated, the condition and depth of the tyre tread, and that the wheels are secure. Properly inflated tyres with good tread depth and secure wheels are essential for safe driving.
  8. Engine, Driveline and Exhaust: This item involves checking for fluid leaks (oil, fuel, water, refrigerant/coolant, hydraulic fluid, brake fluid or other) from the vehicle (excluding condensation from air conditioning or the refrigeration system) and after starting the vehicle, ensuring no engine or drivetrain warning lights remain illuminated on the instrument panel. Checking the engine, driveline, and exhaust system is essential to ensure that the truck is running smoothly and safely.
  9. Steering components: This item involves checking that the steering components are in good working order. Any issues with the steering can cause the truck to become unstable and difficult to control, increasing the risk of accidents.
  10. Safety equipment: This item involves checking that all safety equipment, such as fire extinguishers, first aid kit and reflective triangles, are present and in good condition. These items can be critical in the event of an emergency, so it’s important to ensure that they are in good working order.
  11. Couplings: To ensure safe towing, couplings are an important aspect to check in a truck pre-start checklist. The fifth wheel/ballrace and associated mountings should be secure. The towbar, drawbar, and couplings should also be securely mounted. It’s important to ensure that the trailer coupling is secure and that the kingpin is correctly engaged in the fifth wheel jaws. Finally, all airlines, electrical connectors, and any ABS/EBS connectors should be correctly attached to the trailer, if applicable.

Benefits of Completing Pre-Start Checklists

There are many benefits to completing daily pre-start checklists for trucks, including:

  1. Safety: Regular pre-start checks ensure that the truck is in good working order before it is driven, reducing the risk of accidents caused by faulty equipment or systems.
  2. Compliance: In many jurisdictions, it is a legal requirement for commercial vehicles to undergo daily pre-start checks. Completing these checks helps ensure that the truck and driver are in compliance with regulations and can help avoid costly fines.
  3. Cost Savings: Identifying and addressing minor issues during pre-start checks can help prevent major breakdowns and repairs, saving time and money in the long run.
  4. Increased Efficiency: A well-maintained truck is more likely to operate efficiently, resulting in better fuel economy and reduced downtime.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

Some of the common mistakes made with truck pre-start checklist templates include:

  1. Neglecting to Train Drivers on How to Use the Checklist: It’s important to ensure that all drivers are properly trained on how to complete the pre-start checklist correctly. Without adequate training, drivers may not know how to identify potential safety issues or may overlook important checks, which can lead to safety incidents. Training drivers on the correct use of the checklist can also help to ensure that the process is consistent and thorough across all drivers and vehicles.
  2. Failing to Standardise the Checklist: Standardising the pre-start checklist is crucial to ensure consistency and thoroughness in the inspection process. A standardised checklist ensures that all important checks are completed and reduces the likelihood of essential items being missed. Standardisation also helps to ensure that drivers know exactly what is expected of them during the pre-start check, reducing confusion and potential mistakes.
  3. Not Conducting Pre-Start Checks Daily: Regular pre-start checks are essential to ensure that the truck is in good condition and safe to operate. Neglecting to conduct these checks on a daily basis can lead to undetected safety issues that can put the driver and others on the road at risk. Daily checks help to identify potential problems early, allowing for timely repairs and maintenance, and reducing the likelihood of breakdowns and accidents on the road.

The Role of Checklists in Compliance

Some of the laws truck daily pre-start checklists help with include:

  1. National Heavy Vehicle Regulator Standards: Regular pre-start checks help ensure compliance with national heavy vehicle regulator standards, which aim to improve road safety and reduce the risk of accidents involving heavy vehicles.
  2. Chain of Responsibility Legislation: Chain of responsibility (CoR) holds all parties involved in the road transport supply chain accountable for ensuring that their actions, or inactions, do not contribute to breaches of road transport laws.
  3. Occupational Health and Safety Regulations: Pre-start checklists are an important tool to help ensure that trucks are safe to operate, reducing the risk of accidents and injuries to drivers and other road users.

Below: Digital Dump Truck Daily Pre-Start Checklist by DIGI CLIP mobile forms

Truck Daily Pre-Start Checks / Truck Daily Pre-Trip Checklist

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

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.


Using pre-start checklists is crucial for ensuring the safety and maintenance of your truck fleet. By creating a custom checklist template and standardising it across your fleet, you can ensure that all areas of the truck are checked thoroughly and consistently. Completing pre-start checklists daily can also help reduce the risk of breakdowns and costly repairs while improving compliance with national heavy vehicle regulator standards, CoR, and occupational health and safety regulations. Remember to avoid common mistakes such as neglecting to train drivers on how to use the checklist, failing to standardise the checklist, and not conducting pre-start checks daily. Incorporating pre-start checklists into your daily operations can make a significant difference in the safety and compliance of your fleet.

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.