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    DVIR Guide: Definitions, Requirements, Violations, and Benefits

    Everything you need to know about DVIRs

    Vehicle inspection is a critical part of every commercial driver's routine before they set out on the day's routes. 

    While legally required in the United States, mandated by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) in accordance with the Department of Transportation (DOT), driver vehicle inspection reports, or DVIRs, are inherently so much more than just a legal obligation. 

    DVIRs are invaluable to maintaining healthy, safe, and productive fleets – designed to help prevent accidents caused by vehicle malfunction and ensure every commercial vehicle is road ready. Vehicle inspections serve to help protect not only the safety of drivers and valuable assets, but others sharing the road. 

    This guide will cover what you need to know about DVIRs, including pre- and post-trip inspections, regulations, how to manage them, and more. 

    What is a DVIR?

    DVIR is a formal report documenting and confirming that a driver has conducted a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) inspection. An integral part of a commercial driver’s daily routine, these reports help keep fleet vehicles healthy while ensuring driver safety and compliance. 

    DVIRs help keep fleet managers aware of any vehicle defects or faults that may inhibit the safe operation of a fleet vehicle. They are a driver’s opportunity to notify fleet managers of any potential operational issues so that they can be addressed immediately. Should a vehicle be deemed inoperable, it can be pulled from rotation right away. 

    What is a pre-trip inspection?

    A pre-trip inspection is just as it sounds – a driver’s scrutiny of a fleet vehicle at the beginning of a shift, to make sure it is safe and ready for the road. This involves a comprehensive run through a vehicle, looking for any abnormalities often associated with an acronym known as the ABC’s: A for abrasions, B for bent or broken, and C for cuts. It covers all parts of the vehicle, with the following minimum inspection points: 

    • Brakes, including trailer brakes and parking brake
    • The steering mechanism
    • Lights and reflectors
    • Rims, wheels, and tires
    • Lighting devices such as signals and taillights
    • The vehicle’s horn
    • Windshield wipers
    • Rearview mirror
    • Emergency equipment
    • Coupling devices
    • Any vehicles towed

    What is a post-trip inspection?

    Along similar lines, a post-trip inspection is a driver's inspection of a vehicle immediately following the end of a shift, to look for any damage or abnormalities that may have occurred during on-duty time. 

    This secondary inspection is meant to ensure a vehicle is healthy and ready to go for the next driver or shift, with time to address any problems should the need arise. Post-trip DVIRs include the same minimum inspection points as pre-trip inspections.

    DVIR requirements

    So, when are you required to complete and sign a DVIR? Below, we will walk through DVIR requirements per federal mandates. 

    When is a DVIR required?

    DVIRs, including both pre-and post-trip inspections, are required by all commercial drivers operating vehicles or buses weighing 10,0001 pounds or more, carrying 9 or more passengers, or placarded for hazardous materials under 49 CFR 396.11 and 396.13 of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations, with a few exceptions. 

    DVIRs do not need to be completed by driveaway-towaway businesses, motor carriers with only a single applicable vehicle, or by those who carry passengers privately and not as part of a business.

    All reports must be stored for a period of at least 3 months. 

    Is a post-trip inspection required by law?

    Yes. However, as of 2014, drivers of trucks and other property-carrying vehicles only need to submit a vehicle inspection report if a safety defect is found, or if company policy still requires them to do so. DVIRs are no longer required by the FMCSA when no safety issue is detected.

    Drivers of buses or other passenger-carrying vehicles must still submit a report when they are done driving for the day, whether there is a safety defect found or not. 

    How to fill out a driver vehicle inspection report

    The DVIR process in 4 steps

    Completing a driver vehicle inspection report is as simple as 4 basic steps: 


    This is the driver’s time to circle a vehicle for a thorough analysis of its working order. This includes looking under the hood and starting the vehicle to test electrical instruments, including lights and wipers and other important mechanical components, such as brakes and steering. 


    As the driver conducts their vehicle inspection, they must report any potential defects or abnormalities that may impact vehicle safety or lead to a possible breakdown. It is important that the driver provides detailed information in order for fleet managers to have a clear understanding of every issue. 


    Once the driver has completed their inspection, they must sign off on the report and submit it to their motor carrier.


    After a driver submits their report, it is the motor carrier’s responsibility to see to it that any safety issues noted during the driver’s inspection are repaired immediately. All repairs must then be signed and certified as complete (or not needed) by both a mechanic and the next driver during a pre-trip inspection before the vehicle can go back on the road.

    DVIR violations

    Any carriers found to be out of compliance with federal DVIR regulations are subject to hefty fines at the discretion of DOT officers. Driver vehicle examination report violations may include the following penalties:

    • Up to $1,270 per day for failing to complete a required DVIR
    • Up to $12,700 for falsification of reports to hide a defect 
    • Up to $15,420 for failing to repair a reported defect

    While these fines can quickly add up, being found non-compliant comes with other potentially even more costly consequences that can wreak havoc on the bottom line of any fleet.

    Any vehicle found to be unsafe will be immediately placed out of commission until repaired, regardless of the circumstances. This unplanned downtime can mean serious loss in revenue. In addition, violations can have a substantial impact on a carrier's overall Compliance, Safety, and Accountability (CSA) score, which may mean lost business opportunities. 

    Electronic DVIR

    Historically, DVIRs have often been completed manually in the form of paper reports, a now outdated practice in a modern digital age. With technological advancements, drivers are now able to complete electronic DVIRs, or eDVIRs, through digital devices.  

    What is eDVIR?

    eDVIRs enable drivers to complete their vehicle inspections through the convenience of their mobile devices. Doing away with paper reporting has a host of benefits beyond the simple administrative burden of storing and maintaining paper reports. 

    Benefits of eDVIR

    Going paperless in the form of eDVIRs has many benefits. Below we will outline our top 5:   

    1. Faster response 

    Perhaps one of the most profound capabilities improved by electronic DVIRs is instant data access. With our DVIR app, as soon as a driver submits a report through their mobile device, fleet managers are afforded almost immediate access for exponentially improved response times. Noted issues can be addressed right away, limiting potential downtime, and unsafe vehicles can be pulled from the roadways sooner rather than later. 

    2. Visual confirmations

    eDVIRs via mobile devices have introduced the opportunity for even greater granularity, with functional options to include both photo and video clips to better articulate driver concerns found during inspection. 

    Our DVIR app gives drivers the ability to submit photos or 3-second video clips with their reports, providing even greater context and the ability to document a problem more accurately in place of time-consuming written descriptions. With visual clarity, fleet managers are given invaluable visibility into vehicle conditions and better assess damages for repair. 

    3. Greater efficiency 

    Electronic DVIRs allow for faster, more streamlined vehicle inspections for increased efficiency. With Lytx DVIR service, a simple checklist format in-app allows drivers to move through inspections with ease, getting them out on the road faster, saving time, and increasing productivity. 

    4. Paperless reporting 

    Paper inspection reports can be a messy administrative nightmare. With limited space, it’s hard to thoroughly articulate issues without cramming or diminishing legibility. Plus, there is no way to ensure satisfactory penmanship or that drivers are not rushing to complete them, potentially leaving out important information. 

    With electronic DVIR, drivers are able to complete reports in less time and with even greater accuracy, ensuring no vital information is left incomplete with the opportunity to make corrections prior to submission. Digitizing the process has allowed for more consistent reporting. 

    5. Report management  

    Last, but not least, electronic DVIR submission allows for more comprehensive data management. With all driver reports submitted and accessible through the fleet managers web portal, managers can easily maintain accurate records, make corrections, and contact drivers for immediate feedback should anything need to be addressed. 

    This level of total DVIR visibility is just not possible with paper logs spread across an entire fleet. The best part is, with the right partner, DVIR can be bundled with other fleet management solutions for even greater fleet operations management.


    Depending on the vendor, many fleet management solution providers offer electronic logging device (ELD) services in addition to DVIR, for a comprehensive solution set for all your compliance needs.

    For those not requiring ELD, or those with an ELD solution already in place, our DVIR app is one of the only DVIR solutions on the market offered to be purchased without ELD service. Regardless of compliance, DVIR is a powerful tool for safety and maintenance management, beneficial to any fleet.   

    Contact us or book a demo to learn more about our DVIR app or other ways in which fleet management software can improve your fleet operations for the better.