Vehicle Checks and Defects

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 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.































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