Transport October 2022

Daily Walkaround Checks

I recently posted about watching a driver carry out a daily walkaround check without leaving the cab, following on from a point made in the Traffic Commissioner’s (TC) annual report:

“An estimated 85% of roadside fines for infringements could be avoided if drivers had performed a walkaround check before their journey.”

With the dark mornings already here and winter just around the corner, will maintenance, especially around mixers, continue to be a hot topic from the regulators? Absolutely.

Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) have previously reminded operators to “prioritise vehicle maintenance and ensure they are legal and roadworthy all year round.” Standard advice goes further to include their data which shows “more than 60% of HGV prohibition defects found at the roadside three months after the MOT, could have been reported and fixed before beginning a journey or noticed when driving the vehicle.”

In the nature of our job, defects are inevitable; it’s a company’s procedures to identify and how they rectify them that are vitally important.

Using an unroadworthy vehicle on the road is an offence because of the threat to public safety if the vehicle is unsafe, it carries the risk of serious injury or fatalities to the driver or any other road users. So how do we make sure everyone is aware of their responsibilities? It’s pretty simple, really, training.

It’s a requirement that all “drivers must be adequately trained and given clear written instructions about their responsibilities”, but many companies, both big and small, ignore this requirement.

The training should include guidance on effectively conducting daily walkaround checks, reporting any defects found and proper training on what qualifies as a defect. They must also be taught why it is essential to conduct these inspections and the risks that could occur if they are not.

Remember, this documented training isn’t just for drivers. Carrying out quality audits or “gate checks’ are expected to be part of good vehicle maintenance regimes, but what about the understanding and experience of those carrying out the check?

How can adequate checks be carried out by someone without any previous experience with mixers and, in some cases, doesn’t even hold an HGV licence?

Are these the same people who encourage driver’s not to report safety-critical defects days before a mixer drum detaches from the frame?

Now imagine if that had caused a fatality… surely it’s better to have an “inconvenience” than a “catastrophe”?

Not if there’s concrete waiting to be delivered, apparently.

It’s not just daily walkarounds that continue to shine a poor light on maintenance across our industry; there are many other factors to consider; remember, load security forms part of your maintenance obligations, yet we continually ban drivers from washing down on-site with no regard for road safety so, we aren’t doing ourselves any favours in that respect.

Recent incidents have once again shone a spotlight on mixer maintenance and the potential consequences that bring about the real possibility of having to appear before the TC, never mind a judge. We just never learn.

Much chest-puffing about how good we are as an industry is just as quickly forgotten once you’ve got the invite to a Public Enquiry – and what do we do?

Same as we’ve always done – Nothing.

So, where does this leave us, you might wonder, and some will not like the answer.

There’s a change upon us that will no longer allow the industry to cut corners, operate unsafely and make up the rules as we go along.

The warning signs have been there for years, and that feeling of being untouchable is about to disappear… and quickly.

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