On August 2, 2013, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administrator Anne S. Ferro announced a proposed change in the regulations relating to Driver Vehicle Inspection Reports (“DVIRs”).  Currently, commercial motor vehicle drivers are required to conduct pre and post trip inspections of their vehicle and document their findings on a DVIR.  Under the proposed change, DVIRs would be required only if defects or deficiencies were discovered by or reported to the driver during the day’s operations.  Driver’s would still be required to conduct pre and post trip inspections.

In support of the change, Ms. Ferro argues that a defect-only reporting system “would reduce a significant paperwork burden facing truck drivers and save the industry billions without compromising safety.”

I question whether or not safety would be compromised.  Having to fill out a DVIR, whether or not defects exist, reminds the truck driver that a pre and post trip inspection must be completed and reminds the truck driver what needs to be inspected.  Although truck drivers are required to conduct inspections and possess the knowledge of what needs to be inspected, taking the time to fill out paperwork reinforces the inspection routine.  Perhaps a low-cost paperless system, through the use of a simple, handheld electronic device, would be a reasonable compromise.  Such a system could reduce the burden and costs of paperwork while still providing the truck driver with the necessary inspection reminders.