Every semi driver needs to do one thing before hitting the open road: Inspect his or her vehicle for safety. Drivers bear the final responsibility for making certain that they don’t allow an unsafe vehicle out on the road that could endanger everyone in its path.

What are some of the top things drivers need to keep in mind when keeping their rigs in shape?

1. Clean the cab.

It may not sound important, but a messy, disorganized cab may indicate a disorganized approach to maintenance in general. Junk strewn about the cab also presents a safety issue: A discarded water bottle can lodge itself under one of the pedals, odds and ends tossed on top of the dash can obstruct the driver’s view or keep a defroster from working and loose items can become lethal projectiles if there’s an accident.

2. Check the brakes.

Vibrations, squealing noises or the sound of something grinding when the brakes are pressed all indicate a need for repairs. No trip should even start without a checkup if there are warning signs of brake problems. Even absent warning signs, drivers should still always check the brakes’ alignment with a slack adjuster and make sure the air lines are flexible and not leaking. The seals and air lines should also all be free of visible damage.

3. Examine the tires.

It really can’t be overstated how important tires are to the health and safety of both a big rig and other vehicles on the road. A tire that suddenly blows or peels its tread off while heading down the highway can be a huge hazard for the trucker and all the other vehicles nearby. Tire pressure needs to be checked and adjusted routinely — too little air in the tires can make steering harder. Too much air in the tires can lead to a puncture and a blowout. The lug nuts on the wheels also need to be inspected. Rusted or widened bolt holes can end up causing a tire to roll off as the rig is in operation.

If you’ve been injured in an accident with a poorly-maintained semi, you may be facing a long recovery process. Contact an attorney who is familiar with truck accident cases and discuss your options.

Source: Job Monkey, “Tractor Trailer Maintenance,” accessed March 28, 2017