OTDC: How to do a perfect pre-trip

by James Menzies with videographer Austin Hitchcock

LONDON, Ont. — One of the most daunting elements of the Provincial Truck Driving Championships is the pre-trip inspection, which must be completed in less than eight minutes under the supervision of a uniformed transport enforcement officer.

MTO transport enforcement officer Chad King walks us through a pre-trip inspection.
MTO transport enforcement officer Chad King walks us through a pre-trip inspection.

Defects have been planted on the vehicle, which the competitor must identify. This year in the Ontario Truck Driving Championships, for the first time ever, three drivers aced the pre-trip with perfect scores. They were: Mike Hamilton, City of Brampton; Wayne Burnett, Home Hardware; and Rob Hunter, Waste Management.

We asked transport enforcement officer and judge Chad King from the MTO’s Vineland station to walk us through the pre-trip inspection component of the competition and to offer some tips on how to complete a perfect pre-trip. King explains that the level of competition has increased over the years, making it more difficult to plant defects that go unnoticed.



While all drivers have their own processes and can begin the inspection wherever on the vehicle they choose, King starts at the front of the truck and works his way back. When checking the wheel fasteners, also be sure to check the washers to ensure they’re secure, King advises. He also reveals the first of five planted defects.



King gives an overview of the brake system components and fluids that should be checked at the front of the vehicle, before working his way down alongside the frame rails. He inspects the fuel tank to ensure it’s secure as well as the air lines and along the way, he uncovers the second planted defect.



As he works his way along the vehicle, King checks the trailer air tanks to ensure they’re well connected. He inspects the frame rail for cracks and looks for bulging along the side of the trailer that would indicate an insecure or overwidth load. He also examines the landing gear and ensures mudflaps are in place.



King moves to the back of the trailer and inspects the door as well as the marker lights. He ensures the conspicuity markings are visible and examines the trailer wheels and brake systems. He also inspects the suspension system.



On the passenger side of the truck, King inspects the landing gear and underhood components. Along the way, his inspection reveals two more planted defects. He also touches on what drivers should be looking for inside the cab.



Having given us an overview of the pre-trip inspection, King had nothing but praise for the drivers who took part.

“We had some drivers who did really well this year,” he said. “These guys are getting better and better each year, which is good. It means the safety programs at their companies are working and companies are taking due diligence to ensure their drivers are operating safely on the road. We like to see that.”

And on a personal note, King, who’s participating as a judge for his third year, said it’s a nice opportunity to get to know the professional drivers in a more relaxed setting than what may exist at a roadside inspection station.

“Coming to an event like this, it’s a lot more laid back,” he said. “So we can have a little bit more camaraderie with the drivers, talk to them about different things and get to know them on a different level and they can do the same with us. It’s a great environment for us to work cooperatively together.”

The five planted defects:

  1. Loose pitman arm
  2. Loose electrical line connection
  3. Leaking wheel hub
  4. Missing placards
  5. Missing mudflap on the trailer


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