HGV Driver Daily Walkaround Checks
Whether you are a Vehicle Operator, Transport Manager, Fleet Manager or HGV driver, there is a collective legal responsibility to ensure that the vehicle being operated is roadworthy and safe to drive.
HGV drivers are not only responsible for the safe transportation of goods and cargo, they are also in control of large and powerful vehicles. It is therefore really important that drivers take responsibility for their own safety and the safety of others on the road.
In the event of an accident, the daily walkaround check records will be examined, and should the record be incomplete then the operator and the HGV driver could face a fine and have the vehicle taken off the road.
What Are HGV Daily Checks?
The daily checks performed by HGV drivers are also known as walkaround checks. These walkaround checks must be carried out before the start of any journey. The aim of the walkaround check is to make sure that the vehicle is not showing any obvious signs of wear and tear, and that the vehicle is considered to be roadworthy.
These checks ensure the safety of the driver, other road users, and also ensure the cargo is protected during transit.
The walkaround check must include the following:
- The check should cover the whole of the vehicle
- The check should include all trailers being towed by the vehicle
- The interior of the vehicle
- The exterior of the vehicle
The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA)
The DVSA has issued a walkaround guide to inform drivers of what needs to be checked on their vehicle before each journey. The DVSA and the police can stop drivers to carry out checks on the vehicle. Should they identify any defects they can issue drivers with a fine and prevent them from completing their journey. It is, therefore, crucial that a thorough walkaround check is completed before every journey.
What Should I Be Checking During the Walkaround?
First of all, make sure that you leave at least 15-20 minutes before starting your journey so that you have enough time to carry out the walkaround check properly. Remember, it is your legal responsibility to check to see if the vehicle is in a roadworthy condition.
These are the checks you should be carrying out:
The Outside of the Vehicle:
- Check indicators and lights to make sure they are all working as they should be
- Check that all the lenses have been fitted and are clean, and the correct colour
- Check the marker lights are working and properly fitted
- Check the battery is in good condition and secure, and also that it is not leaking
- Check the fuel fitter cap is on correctly
- Check the number plate is on properly, is not broken or damaged, spaced correctly, unfaded and uncovered
- Check all the electrical connections to make sure there is no visible or hanging wiring that is not insulated
- All reflectors should be working, unobscured, secure, fitted correctly, and the right colour
- Any warning plates and markings should be visible, secure, the right colour, and not obscured
- If you are transporting any dangerous goods then the hazard information panels need to be correct
- Check electrical wiring is not damaged or hanging loose, and that all switches work properly
- Check the electrical trailer couplings
- Then check the load and security of the load to make sure it is unlikely to move, and is the right type of load securing system for the cargo you are transporting
- Turn the engine on and then check again around and under the vehicle to see if there are any oil or fuel leaks that you can see
- Check to see if there is any smoke that is excessive from the exhaust
- Top up any exhaust fluid if you need to
- Make sure the vehicle and trailer are securely connected and that any secondary locking devices are working and in the correct position
- Check the brake lines and trailer brakes to ensure that there are no leaks or damage and that the trailer parking brake works and the couplings are free from any debris
- Carry out an initial brake test leaving the engine running to build up the pressure so you can listen out for any leaks.
- Check the wheels and tyres to make sure:
- The tyres and wheels are all secure and not damaged
- They are all inflated properly
- Check tyres for cuts and holes
- All wheel nuts are secure and tight and where they should be
- The tyres have at least 1mm of tread depth
- There is no visible cord on the tyres
- No debris or objects have been trapped in the twin wheels
- Check the body and wings of the vehicle to make sure:
- The trailer doors and cab doors are all secure when they are closed
- The fastening devices all work
- The rear under-run guards and sideguards are all fitted (where required) and none of them are damaged or insecure
- The body panels on the trailer or tractor are secure and fitted
The Inside of the Vehicle:
- Check all the mirrors and glass to make sure they are in the correct place, unobscured, not cracked, discoloured or scratched
- All camera systems in use must be checked
- Check the windscreen and side windows
- Windscreen wipers should be checked to make sure they are not missing or damaged, and that they all work correctly
- Ensure your front view is not obstructed and the sweep area is free from objects or debris
- Your view of the road should be unobstructed
- All dashboard and warning lights and gauges should be checked
- Warning lights relating to engine warnings, emissions system, electronic braking, and anti-lock systems should be checked to make sure they work
- Check the steering wheel functions properly without excessive play
- The horn should work and be accessible from the driver’s seat
- Always check the correct height vehicle and marker is displayed in the cab
- Seatbelts should be working and stay secure when plugged in
- Check the brakes to make sure there are no leaks, the foot well is clear and the brakes do not have excessive play or loose parts
- Check the brakes in a similar way for the trailer
Reporting Defects to the Vehicle
Once the walkaround check has been completed drivers should record the results. Any and all defects should be properly recorded and reported. The obligation to report any defects does not only relate to the daily walkaround, but also includes any defects identified at any point in a journey.
If any defect is identified during a journey, then you should find a safe place where you can stop the vehicle to assess and record/report the details of the defect to your employer. You cannot continue to drive if you spot any dangerous defects, these should be fixed before you continue your journey. Drivers operating a HGV in a dangerous condition (by not fixing any dangerous defects) could face an unlimited fine and a prison sentence.
Things that need to be recorded include the following:
- The date of the walkaround check
- Your full name
- The registration number plate of the vehicle (or the identification mark)
- Any defects and any symptoms of defects spotted
- An assessment of the defect
- Details of who the defect(s) was reported to and when
Fleet Managers should provide drivers with a checklist template to be used when carrying out your vehicle walkaround check. Remember, the DVSA can ask you to show them a record of your daily walkaround check if they stop you for a roadside check, so it is imperative that the check is completed and documented.
All Heavy Goods Vehicles need comprehensive insurance to ensure the vehicle is protected alongside the driver and the goods carried by the vehicle. Depending on the business you work for, you may need a non-standard or bespoke insurance policy.
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