Why not doing vehicle checks is risky for your drivers and vehicles
According to a recent survey, the majority of HGV drivers do not consistently carry out checks. Ensuring daily walkaround checks happen is part of the commitment an HGV fleet operator makes to receive a license, and is an important part of ongoing compliance.
However, it’s drivers who are responsible for the state of the vehicle they drive. Does this split responsibility mean it’s easy for regular and adequate checks to fall through the cracks?
In surveying over 500 UK and Ireland-based drivers, asking how often they carry out daily walkaround checks, somewhat shockingly almost 40% (39.3%) of drivers responded with, ‘I never do checks’, with a further 15.8% saying they rarely complete checks.
So, over half of those surveyed (55.1%) reported that they do not regularly carry out regular walkaround checks.
Just 29.4% of drivers say they always complete checks, with 15.5% saying they usually do them.
Walkaround checks should be a part of every driver’s pre-journey routine. The best way of ensuring this, is for operators to have processes in place for checks to happen and be recorded. But, according to the survey results, it seems all too frequently they are missed. At what cost?
Checks are important for a variety of reasons:
– Completing them means drivers and fleet operators are constantly aware of the state of their vehicle(s). The DVSA reported in January 2020 that 85% of lorry defects can be picked up during a walkaround check. Very often these defects are quickly and inexpensively solved.
– Leaving the depot with a defective vehicle can store up trouble – and in many cases, danger. Problems don’t disappear on their own and driving a vehicle that isn’t fully functional is putting the driver, the operator, and other road users at risk.
– There’s also the legal aspect. Drivers can receive an unlimited fine and even a prison sentence for using an HGV in a dangerous condition, and there are many sanctions for operators, too. In the event of an accident, incident, or being pulled over by an enforcement agency, evidence of adequate walkaround vehicle checks will be sought. Lack of evidence could lead to insurance issues in the event of a claim or pay-out. In this circumstance, both the driver and the operator can be liable.
In this day and age, especially with digital technology, is the conventional ‘defect book and pen’ being used correctly? There’s an abundance of in-lab systems and Apps out there, that can send confirmation of the walkaround and its location directly to the transport office. The walkaround is part of the driver’s duty, and not doing these checks is not only dangerous but can be crucial in the event of enforcement or insurance issues.