Walkaround checks are a common part of the daily routine for heavy vehicle operators. After all, it’s vital to ensure your vehicle is in good use before you set out for a day’s work. This helps you to keep on top of any potential issues that may arise or defects that need taking care of.
However, a recent survey conducted by fleet safety specialists CameraMatics has found that around half of HGV drivers in the UK and Ireland don’t actually carry out these regular checks. 40% of respondents stated that they “never do checks”, while a further 15.8% said they start checks but rarely complete them.
Typically, drivers are the ones responsible for ensuring a vehicle is in a fit enough state to drive. It could be that those who don’t do routine checks are relying on another person in the business – like their employer or a health and safety officer – to keep track of any issues.
Conducting walkaround checks
Completing a daily walkaround check before getting in a vehicle means that drivers and fleet operators can prevent themselves facing any problems whilst out on the road. A routine check can pick up small issues that are often very quick and not very costly to fix. Going out on the road with potential defects, however, runs the risk of dangerous or expensive problems to sort out later.
Your walkaround checklist should cover mirrors and windows to ensure there are no scratches, cracks or marks that could obscure your view. You should also make sure windscreen wipers aren’t damaged or worn and that washer fluid is topped up and working correctly.
Inside the cab, you should have a checklist to cover dashboard lights, steering, brakes and horn. Have another colleague help you check the rear lights when testing your brakes and indicators too. Outside the vehicle, you should check for possible fuel or oil leaks and check tyres for wear and tear, as well as proper inflation.
Depending on your vehicle, you may also need to check the security of heavy loads and any attached trailers. Upon completing your daily checklist, make sure you record and report any issues you find, no matter how small. You should also keep a copy of your latest walkaround check in your cab as you could be asked to present it at the roadside during a DVSA spot check.
Failure to provide evidence of an adequate vehicle check could lead to an unlimited fine and even a prison sentence if a heavy vehicle is in a considerably dangerous condition. To avoid an awful lot of hassle later on – whether practical or legal – it’s vital for drivers to complete your walkaround checks every time.