Vehicle Checks and Defects

Two of the top 5 causes of accidents involving goods and passenger vehicles include cargo movement and component failure.  Incidents involving lorries are more likely to cause fatalities or serious injuries than other vehicles, as high as 24% compared to the average for all crashes of 13%.

 

It is a requirement under the 1974 Health and Safety at Work act that risks are reduced.  For drivers this is covered by the daily walkaround check and by continuous monitoring.

There are three main causes of incidents on the road:

  • Nature

  • Mechanical failure

  • Human error

Out of the three of these, human error accounts for the greatest number.  It could be argued all incidents originate in human error.  Drivers need to do all they can to ensure their vehicles and loads/passengers are safe.

Checks should be performed whenever new vehicles are collected, new trailers or whenever vehicles have been left unattended when parked particularly in public places.

PG9 prohibitions are issued for vehicles or drivers who are deemed to present an unacceptable risk to the public road network.  It is an offence to drive, tow or operate a vehicle with a prohibition issued on it.  Prohibitions notify the operator and the traffic commissioner.  The issues must be rectified before the prohibition can be lifted (via a PG10).  DVSA have the ability to target operators of fleets with poor ratings.

The ratings are encompassed in the Operators Compliance Risk Score (OCRS).  These are rated Red (high risk), Amber (medium risk) and green (low risk) on two elements - the vehicle roadworthiness - from vehicle tests (first tests, subsequent annual tests); ‘vehicle encounters’ (fleet check inspections at operator premises, roadside inspections) and from traffic - Roadside inspections and prosecutions (for example, for drivers’ hours and tachograph offences, weighing checks).  It is possible for there to be no records of stops within three years, in which case a vehicle, driver or operator may not appear on OCRS.  Issues appear on the report as points.  More points indicates more risk.  Penalties can range from 25 points through to 300 points and the score is rated according to a 3 year system that can be seen here.  You can see more about how the OCRS system works at the UK Government website here.  Only the operator licence holder has access to the system and can see the score for the licence.  If you have an O licence, you can access the system here.

Drivers and operators must do their part in two respects - firstly, to ensure the vehicle is in a good roadworthy state, and secondly through compliance with regulations.  

Prohibitions can be delayed or deferred for up to ten days based on the number and severity of risks.  If the risks are not sufficiently high to warrant a prohibition, a vehicle inspection notice can be issued.

A technical roadside inspection report (PG35EC) is issued following inspection that will determine what level of action if any, is required.

There are some excellent guides on websites out there to offer a walkthrough for checks - such as this one at the British Trucking website here.  The UK Government has created lots of resources for this too, follow the links at the top of the page for more.

Records

Records must be kept for daily checks - these can be written or digital, and must be kept for 15 months. Considering the importance of these documents should the worst happen, it is essential for drivers and operators to be very meticulous about both the checking systems and the records from these.

HGV Checks:

Check inside the vehicle

1. Mirrors and glass

 

Check that the windscreen is not:

cracked

scratched

discoloured

Check that the windscreen and front side windows are not excessively tinted.

Check that all mirrors are in place and not:

damaged or missing glass

obscured

insecure

If a camera system is used instead of a mirror, check that it works and the view is correct.

2. Windscreen wipers and washers

Make sure the windscreen wipers work. Check that they are not:

missing

damaged or worn

Make sure the windscreen washer is working.

3. Front view

Check that no objects get in the way of your front view.

As a general rule, there should be nothing in the swept area of the windscreen wipers.

Some official stickers and road safety items are allowed, as long as they do not seriously block your view of the road, for example, operator licence disc.

4. Dashboard warning lights and gauges

Check that all of these are working correctly:

instruments

gauges

warning lights - including the engine warning, emissions system, anti-lock braking system (ABS) and electronic braking system (EBS)

5. Steering

Check that the steering wheel:

moves properly and that the power-assisted steering works correctly

has no excessive play

does not jam

Check that there’s no excessive lift or movement in the steering column.

6. Horn

Check that the horn works and is easily accessible from the driver’s seat.

7. Brakes and air build-up

Check that:

the air builds up correctly and warning system works

there are no air leaks

the footwell is clear

the service brake operates both the tractor and trailer brakes

the parking brake for the tractor works

the service brake pedal does not have excessive side play or missing, loose or incomplete anti-slip tread

 

8. Height marker

Check the correct vehicle height is displayed on the vehicle height marker in the cab.

Remember, the height can change, for example, when the fifth wheel is adjusted, or if the trailer is loaded, unloaded or reloaded.

 

9. Seatbelts

Check that seatbelts:

do not have any cuts, damage or fraying that may stop them from working

stay secure when you plug them in

retract against you when fitted, and fully retract when you take them off

 

Check outside the vehicle

10. Lights and indicators

Check that:

all lights and indicators work correctly

all lenses are fitted, clean and the right colour

stop lamps come on when you apply the service brake and go out when you release it

marker lights are fitted and work

11. Fuel and oil leaks

Check that the fuel filler cap is fitted correctly.

Turn on the engine and check underneath the vehicle for any fuel or oil leaks.

12. Battery security and conditions

Check that your battery is:

secure

in good condition

not leaking

13. Diesel exhaust fluid (AdBlue)

Check that your diesel vehicle has enough AdBlue diesel exhaust fluid and top up if necessary.

14. Excessive engine exhaust smoke

Check that the exhaust does not emit an excessive amount of smoke.

15. Security of body and wings

Check that:

all fastening devices work

cab doors and trailer doors are secure when closed

body panels on tractor or trailer are secure and not likely to fall off

landing legs (if fitted) are secure and not likely to fall off while driving

sideguards and rear under-run guards are fitted if required, and that they’re not insecure or damaged

16. Spray suppression

If spray suppression flaps are required, check that they are:

fitted

secure

not damaged

not clogged with mud or debris

17. Tyres and wheel fixing

Check that:

the tyres and wheels are secure

the tyres have a tread depth of at least 1mm

the tyres are inflated correctly

there are no deep cuts in the tyre’s sidewall

there is no cord visible anywhere on the tyre

all wheel nuts are tight enough - you can check if wheel nut indicators (if fitted) have moved to do this

there are no objects or debris trapped between the twin wheels

18. Brake lines and trailer parking brake

Check that:

couplings are free from debris and are in the right place

there are no leaks

there is no damage or wear to the brake lines

the parking brake for the trailer works

After the initial brake test, leave the engine running so pressure can build up. This will make it easier to hear any leaks as you carry out the rest of the walkaround check.

19. Electrical connections

Check each connection and make sure that all:

visible wiring is insulated

visible wiring is not likely to get caught or damaged

all electrical trailer couplings are connected securely

all electrical switches work correctly

20. Coupling security

Check that your vehicle is securely attached to your trailer and that the:

trailer is located correctly in the fifth wheel or coupling

secondary locking devices are in the correct position

 

21. Security of load

Check that the load does not move and is not likely to move.

Make sure you use the right type of load securing system for the load.

If you’re not happy with how the load is secured or how stable it is, ask the person in charge of vehicle safety to:

get a competent person to assess it

reload or resecure it if necessary

22. Number plate

Check that the number plate is not:

broken or incomplete

incorrect or spaced incorrectly

dirty

faded

covered over by anything

 

23. Reflectors

Check that the reflectors (including side reflectors) are not:

missing

broken

insecure

fitted incorrectly

the wrong colour

obscured by dirt or other objects

24. Markings and warning plates

Check that the vehicle’s markings (including conspicuity markings) are:

the right colour

visible

securely fastened

not obscured by dirt or other objects

If the vehicle is carrying dangerous goods, check that the hazard information panels are:

show the correct information for the load

visible

securely fastened

not obscured by dirt or other objects

Other check items

You might need to check other items specific to the vehicle, for example, loading or specialised equipment.

Record and report the result of your check

Record and report all defects that you find during the daily walkaround check, and that you become aware of during your journey

What to record

Record:

the vehicle registration (number plate) or identification mark

the date

details of the defects or symptoms

your assessment of the defects (for example, ‘dangerous’)

your name

who it was reported to

 

Use a form that includes a list of the items checked each day. Record ‘nil’ defects if you do not find any.

An example of this form can be found on the government’s website here:

Carry out HGV daily walkaround checks - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

PCV Specific Advice

The DVSA has issued some fairly specific detail on PCV checks. You can visit their site about this here:

Carry out PSV daily walkaround checks - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

These are the items mentioned on their site:

From the driver’s seat:

1. Steering

 

Check that the steering wheel:

moves properly and that the power-assisted steering works correctly

has no excessive play

does not jam

Check that there’s no excessive lift or movement in the steering column.

2. Mirrors, glass and visibility

 

Check that all mirrors are in place and not:

damaged or missing glass

covered up

insecure

Check that the windscreen is not:

cracked

scratched

discoloured

Check that the windscreen and front side windows are not excessively tinted.

Check that no objects get in the way of your front view.

As a general rule, there should be nothing in the swept area of the windscreen wipers.

As long as they do not seriously block your view of the road, you can have some official stickers and road safety items, such as an operator licence disc.

If you use a camera system instead of a mirror, check that it works and the view is correct.

3. Brake and air build-up

Check that:

the air builds up correctly

the warning system works

there are no air leaks

the footwell is clear

the service brake works

the parking brake works

the service brake pedal does not have excessive side play or missing, loose or incomplete anti-slip tread

4. Windscreen wipers and washers

Make sure the windscreen wipers work. Check that they are not:

missing

damaged or worn

 

Make sure the windscreen washer is working.

5. Heating and ventilation

Check that:

forced-air ventilation systems work, if your vehicle has them

at least half of the ventilation system works, if your vehicle does not have forced-air ventilation

ventilators, windows and roof hatches are secure

de-mister equipment works

6. Horn

Check that the horn works and is easily accessible from the driver’s seat.

7. Warning lamps

Check that these work correctly:

instruments

gauges

dashboard warning lamps, including the anti-lock braking system (ABS), full headlamp and parking brake

8. Height marker

Check the height displayed on the vehicle height marker in the cab.

Checks outside the vehicle

9. Lights and indicators

Check that:

all lights and indicators work correctly

all lenses are fitted, clean and the right colour

 

If your vehicle was first used after 1 April 1991 and it is more than 2.1 metres wide, check that marker lights are fitted and work.

10. Wheelchair access

If your vehicle is covered by Public Service Vehicle Accessibility Regulations, you must check that these accessibility features are in good condition:

the wheelchair space and its safety features

the boarding device for wheelchair users

priority seats

handrails

colour contrasting features such as handrails and steps

 

You must also make sure you know how these features work.

11. Doors and exits

 

Check that doors and emergency exits:

work correctly

are secure when shut

open fully

Check that there are visible emergency exit markings and that the lights work.

 

12. Tyre and wheel fixing

Check that:

tyres and wheels are secure

tyres have a tread depth of at least 1mm

tyres are inflated correctly

there are no deep cuts in the tyre’s sidewall

there is no cord visible anywhere on the tyre

there are no objects or debris trapped between the twin wheels

all wheel nuts are in place and are tight enough

If your vehicle has wheel nut indicators, check if they have moved.

 

13. Diesel exhaust fluid (AdBlue)

 

Check that your diesel vehicle has enough AdBlue diesel exhaust fluid and top up if necessary.

 

14. Fuel, oil and waste leaks

 

Check that the fuel filler cap is fitted correctly.

Turn on the engine and check underneath your vehicle for any fuel, oil or waste leaks.

 

15. Number plate

 

Check that the number plate is not:

broken or incomplete

incorrect or spaced incorrectly

dirty

faded

covered up by anything

 

16. Excessive engine exhaust smoke

Check that the exhaust does not emit an excessive amount of smoke.

 

17. Lights and reflectors

 

Check that:

all lights and indicators work correctly

all lenses are fitted, clean and the right colour

stop lamps come on when you apply the service brake and go out when you release it

Check that the reflectors (including side reflectors) are not:

missing

broken

insecure

fitted incorrectly

the wrong colour

covered by dirt or other objects

 

18. Body exterior

 

Check that:

body panels, luggage compartment doors and access doors are secure and that they do not have jagged edges

luggage compartment doors and access doors are secure when closed

Checks inside the vehicle:

19. Seats and seat belts

 

Check that seats are secure, not damaged.

If seats are designed to retract automatically when not in use, make sure they retract correctly.

If there are seatbelts, check that they:

do not have any cuts, damage or fraying that may stop them from working

stay secure when you plug them in

retract against you when fitted, and fully retract when you take them off

 

20. Body interior

 

Check that:

exits are not obstructed

nothing that a passenger may walk on will collapse or is defective or insecure

retractable steps work correctly

engine interior covers are present and do not allow fumes to enter the passenger compartment

interior lights are present and work

any special features such as toilets or cooking facilities are in good condition and safe to use

If your vehicle has parcel racks, grab rails, stanchions, guard rails, padded backrests and barriers, make sure these are all in place and secure.

 

21. Fire extinguisher

 

Check that the fire extinguisher is the correct type. It must

contain water or foam

be marked BS 5423 or EN3

have a minimum fire rating of at least 8A or 21B

Check that the fire extinguisher is:

easy to access

in good condition

not discharged

 

22. Emergency exit hammer

If your vehicle has glass emergency exits that need a hammer to break, check that the hammer is present and easy to access.

23. First aid kit

Vehicles need a first aid kit if they are a bus with:

16 or more passenger seats (except local services)

9 to 16 passenger seats first used from 1 April 1988

Check that the first aid kit is:

present

in good condition

easy to access

24. Communication with the driver

Check that:

bell pushes work and make a sound when you push them

signs that show your vehicle is going to stop work

signs that show the route and destination work

Record and report the result of your check

Record and report all defects that you:

  • find during the daily walkaround check

  • become aware of during your journey

 

What to record

 

Record:

  • the vehicle registration (number plate) or identification mark

  • the date

  • details of the defects or symptoms

  • your assessment of the defects (for example, ‘dangerous’)

  • your name

  • who you reported it to

 

Use a form that includes a list of the items checked each day. Record ‘nil’ defects if you do not find any.

The DVSA even has a template defect form you can download and use, found here:

Public service vehicle (PSV) defect report form for drivers (publishing.service.gov.uk)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Recommended links:

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/785463/guide-to-maintaining-roadworthiness-commercial-goods-and-passenger-carrying-vehicles.pdf

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/carry-out-daily-heavy-goods-vehicle-hgv-walkaround-checks (Excellent!)

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/public-service-vehicle-drivers-daily-walkaround-check (Excellent!)

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/categorisation-of-defects (Longer read)

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/van-drivers-daily-walkaround-check (Excellent!)

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/load-securing-vehicle-operator-guidance/load-securing-vehicle-operator-guidance (Excellent!)

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