Learning Zone

Daily HGV checks

By Lily Hartley
22 January 2021

Daily HGV walkaround checks might be mundane, but they’re essential when it comes to compliance and safety. And if your drivers are not doing them you could stand to lose more than just money. We look at the prohibitions and fines affecting hauliers.

The importance of walkaround checks

 

The vast majority of problems can be solved with a quick walk. It’s estimated that 85% of roadworthiness infringements on HGVs could have been avoided if the driver did a walkaround check before starting a journey.

So it needs to become a habit. Defects can be spotted, compliance documents updated and trends, such a regular damage or recurring problems, identified.

Once completed, any areas of concerns can be noted and acted upon to avoid unnecessary downtime. And crucially, this also prevents an issue becoming an offence, leading to a fine and possible prosecution.

 

How do you make sure drivers carry out daily walkaround checks? 

 

 Traditional paper-based forms can be exploited by drivers. There’s a temptation to fill out a form later in the day, rather than at the start of a journey. Who will know? This poses a huge risk to fleet managers should a lorry be pulled over for a spot check. If a fault is found there could be serious consequences.

Technology can be a great help. Apps via a smartphone or tablet mean that walkaround checks can be completed and the results sent in real time to a fleet management system. This leaves an auditable trail, including evidence they were completed before a vehicle set off.  It removes the temptation for drivers to complete the work later in the day or even at the end of a week for drivers that are away for long periods of time.

 

Checks and balances

 

Lorry and bus drivers can be asked to stop for roadside checks by both the police and the Driver and Vehicle Standards Authority (DVSA). These checks ensure that both vehicle and its driver are operating within regulations and are safe to be on the roads. These checks will include:

  • Vehicle roadworthiness
  • Tachograph records
  • Safety of the load
  • Weight of the vehicle

If serious offences are found, fines will be incurred and there’s even the risk of vehicles being impounded.

Fixed penalty notices can also be issued if a driver is caught with a vehicle that is overweight. The fines increase against the percentage that a vehicle is overladen. As an example, a vehicle that is more than 15% overweight will incur a £300 fine.

So those daily walkarounds will ensure you don’t get fined, and that if there is something amiss, the trail created by digitally uploading check results will ensure you have evidence to back up your processes and procedures.

 

Improve your Operators Compliance Risk Score (OCRS)

 

The DVSA uses a scoring system to help them determine which fleets are a higher risk on the roads. This is known as the Operator Compliance Risk Score (OCRS). If your OCRS is high, then so too are the chances of your vehicles being pulled over for checks.

These scores are based over a three-year rolling period and are calculated based on two key areas: roadworthiness and traffic offences. These create a combined score that is applicable across the entire fleet opposed to individual drivers.

Scores are then used to determine which band you fall into – like a traffic light system – red, amber or green. It goes without saying, if you fall in the red band the chances of you being pulled over increases.

Improving your OCRS means that you need to ensure that vehicles are fully maintained and roadworthy, weights and loads are correct for the vehicle and drivers are being compliant.

 

How to see if you daily walkaround checks are working

 

You need to know if your improved checking regime is working, and that means seeing vehicle information, maintenance records and driver interactions regularly.

But this increased amount of information could be hard to sieve though without technology. Luckily, you can monitor it using smart fleet management solutions that automatically manage work from field-based fleet inspections.

Workshop technicians’ reporting and time management can also be made more efficient and effective by using software solutions. As a result, your fleet will be seamlessly checked and any problems flagged and dealt with before they cause any serious damage – physically or reputationally!

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