Log Truck Pre-Trip Inspections

Date: March 19, 2024

Nancy Rigby, BITCO Home Office Technical Specialist, Risk Control

A Comprehensive Guide Before Hitting the Road

Before hitting the road, log truck drivers must conduct a thorough pre-trip inspection to ensure the safety of themselves and other road users. By neglecting a pre-trip inspection, you're essentially rolling the dice with safety, increasing the likelihood of accidents, legal troubles, and financial burdens. Use this checklist before your next trip:

Cab Interior

Begin the inspection with the interior of the cab.

  • Listen for any abnormal engine noise.
  • Gauges should have "normal" readings and no warning lights on. The "Low Air" warning should operate if the air pressure drops below 60 pounds.
  • Emergency equipment must be available inside of the cab, such as triangles, spare fuses, fire extinguishers in secured locations, and load flags for tree-length truckers.
  • A hard hat should either be located inside the cab or worn.
  • The parking brake and foot brake must be responsive.
  • The wipers, horn(s), and headlight high/low beam switch are operational.
  • Mirrors should be clean and properly positioned.

After inspecting the cab's interior, it's time to check the tractor.


When inspecting the tractor, check:

  • The headlights, taillights, brake lights, turn signals, and four-way flashers to ensure they work correctly.
  • The steering system and front axle, front suspension, and front brake (drive, hoses, air chamber mounting, slack adjusters) are defect-free.
  • Tires, wheels, lugs, rims, and hubs. Check the matching of duals and remove debris stuck between duals. Check the mud flaps.
  • Fuel tank(s) mounting, lines, and caps secure.
  • The driveshaft, exhaust system, frame, cross members, airlines, and electrical wiring.
  • Air and electrical connections are secure (glad hands, electrical receptacle, safety catch, line securement and slack, manual petcocks).
  • Springs, spring hangers, shackles, and U-bolts.
  • No evidence of leaks such as sounds or drips.

Coupling System

When inspecting the coupling system, check:

  • Fifth-wheel mounting parts, no visible space should be between the upper and lower fifth wheel, and ensure there are locking jaws around the shank of the pin. Check the condition of the kingpin, release lever, and safety latch/lock.
  • The air and electrical connections such as glad hands, electrical receptacles, safety catch, line securement and slack, and manual petcocks.


Next, inspect the trailer. Check:

  • Trailer clearance lights and reflectors.
  • Landing gear and crank-handle securement.
  • Trailer side clearance length/reflectors.
  • Frame, cross members, gussets, braces, standards, and bolsters.
  • Proper load securement.
  • Wheels, rims, tires, brakes, and suspension for both the tractor and the trailer.
  • Rear and side visibility, such as lights, reflectors, and mud flaps, ensure the reflective tape is clean with no damage.

Remember to repeat these steps on the opposite side of the trailer and tractor to ensure a safe and smooth trip.

Cab Interior

Finally, return to inspect the cab interior again.

  • Start by re-checking all gauges, making sure the air pressure is at its maximum level.
  • Perform an air brake check appropriate for the system in place. Apply the service brakes and hold for a minute with the engine idling, ensuring the pressure drop does not exceed 4 psi after an initial drop of 5-10 psi.
  • Turn off the four-way flasher, activate the turn signals, and confirm the proper operation of the front lights to enhance visibility and safety while driving.

On-the-Go Checklist

Click here for an easy-to-use checklist: https://learn.bitco.com/logging-pretrip-checklist

log truck inspection pre trip sticker

The significance of pre-trip inspections for log trucks and trailers cannot be overstated. Log truck drivers demonstrate their commitment to safety and responsible transportation practices when making pre-trip inspections a routine. For more forestry-related safety tips, contact your BITCO Risk Control Consultant. Click the button below to find an agent near you.

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For information purposes only. BITCO's blog content does not address all potential circumstances and is not a substitute for business, safety, or legal consultation.

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