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Essential Safety Checks for HGV Drivers

daily hgv checks

Posted on 20th Apr, 2018 by Dominic Benabda

How often do you hear the horn? It’s a common refrain amongst some fleet operators, and actually refers to how often they witness their HGV drivers do their daily checks. Since a short, sharp burst of the horn makes up a vital part of those checks, it’s an easy way to tell that drivers are regularly carrying them out.

Most firms argue that it wouldn’t be realistic to perform a full, exhaustive check each and every morning, on every single vehicle. We think that’s a fair case here at Vision Techniques, but at the same time we’d say that thorough, in-depth checks do still need to be made on a regular basis. This week, we’ll be talking about what those in-depth checks should include.

In-Cab Checks

At a glance:

  • Windows and mirrors
  • Reversing cameras
  • Windscreen washer, wipers, demister
  • Driving controls, seat and seatbelt
  • Horn
  • Tachograph
  • Speed limiter
  • Instruments, gauges and warning lights
  • Air leaks or pressure drops

Full details:

Obviously, visibility is absolute cornerstone of excellent vehicle safety, so checking that the windows are clear, mirrors and unobstructed and reversing cameras are functioning should all be amongst your top priorities. In fact, this is an excellent time to ensure the smooth operation of all of your vehicle safety equipment inside the cab, including any reversing radars or on-board CCTV. Windscreen washers, wipers and demisters are all integral to making sure your vision stays continually clear, so they should be next on the list.

hgv windscreen

Once that’s done, you need to make sure that you’re comfortable at the driver’s controls, and that the seatbelt especially is adjusted correctly. Then give your horn a quick blast to make sure that it’s in sufficient working order – you may have to make surrounding colleagues aware first.

Next, your tachograph needs to be calibrated with the correct hours, with your speed-limiter plaque displayed. This is vital for warning motorists about the cap on your vehicle’s speed, ensuring that they treat you accordingly on the road. Finally, ensure that all your instruments and warning devices are operating correctly – this includes systems like Stopsafe and Brakesafe, both of which can be instrumental in preventing accidents. Your ABS and EBS warning lights will also need to be on this list.

External Vehicle Checks

At a glance:

  • Vehicle is sitting stable
  • Vehicle access (steps, catwalk)
  • Drawbar
  • Bodywork – wings, guards, sides and rear
  • Curtains and straps
  • Tail-lift
  • Wheels, tyres and treads
  • Fifth wheel
  • Steering and brakes
  • Trailer park brake
  • Air and electrical suzies (including ABS/EBs cables)
  • Lights, markings and reflectors
  • Exhaust
  • Engine, oil, water levels and fuel reservoir

Full details:

This first check is an essential one, however straightforward it may seem – you need to ensure that the HGV is square and upright, not tilting to one side. We probably don’t need to tell you why it would be so dangerous otherwise! From there, ensure that all methods of entering, exiting and working around the vehicle are stable and safe, and that the drawbar is sturdy, in good condition and properly attached to the trailer.

curtain check

The next step is to check the vehicle bodywork, to ensure nothing is liable to crumple, bend or even fall away. Then turn your attention to the cargo elements; the curtains need to be intact and the straps fully capable of holding the weight they’re designed to. Similarly, the tail lift needs to be in absolutely perfect working condition, as anything less could expose yourself or employees to incredible danger.

The wheels and traction need to be inspected like any other car, with tyres at a good inflation and tread depth. Make sure you know the location of the fifth wheel, and that the landing legs and handle are in the correct position. Similarly, the steering and brakes (including the trailer park brake) should operate and engage without issue. Your air suspension also needs to be correctly set, to prevent any unpleasant surprises while out on the road.

All air and electrical brakes suzies should be inspected to guarantee that they’re also fitted correctly. This includes the ABS/EBS cable – after all, if that isn’t operating as required then it renders much of their safety purposes completely null! Any lights, reflectors and markings should be thoroughly inspected to ensure that they’re clean and visible at the distances they need to be. Unless drivers can see them in time, they’re completely pointless. If an accident occurs because of this, it could potentially expose your company to litigation if the worst should happen (not to mention the physical risk it poses to other drivers).

The exhaust also needs to be checked to ensure that there is no excess noise or smoke which might be indicative of any problems, serious or otherwise. Just as normal cars, engine oil levels, windscreen washer reservoirs and water all need to be checked – take care to look for any signs of ruptures or leaks!

Before Setting Off

rear of hgv

Most drivers will do this anyway, but your load needs to be properly secured, with the weight distributed evenly before you set off. Finally, with the tachograph, speedometer and speed limiter all in perfect working order, and with all displays fully operational inside the cab, you’re ready to go. Don’t forget to turn your ABS/EBS warning lights off!

It looks a lot when explained fully, but a quick daily walkaround check will often be more than sufficient to satisfy many of the safety requirements, and even new drivers will quickly become adept on the most efficient ways to do so. Here at Vision Techniques, your safety is our priority. Products like our StopSafe system have been specifically designed to reduce the likelihood of accidents should anything fail with your vehicle – even if drivers themselves become incapacitated at the wheel. You can click here to find out more about StopSafe, or alternatively explore the benefits of our VT Banksman Reversing Radar.