Have you done your vehicle checks today?
A professional driver should carry out vehicle checks at least once a day as there is a great deal that can go wrong with an HGV and if not spotted can lead to all sorts of trouble both for the driver and the vehicle operator. On starting work and before any driving is done the driver should carry out a visual inspection of his vehicle and trailer even if it is the same vehicle that he drove yesterday as things can go wrong.
After inserting your tachograph, this should be done first to show that you have spent some time with your vehicle doing your checks and not got in it and driven off straight away, you should start by checking the engine oil level and water level, modern vehicle’s allow this to be done electronically on the dash board whilst sitting in the driver’s seat, still sitting in the driver’s seat look for the transport ministry plate and also check that the height meter is set correct and in view, also check mirrors for operation and cracks etc, once this is ok the engine should be started and all lights switched on including fog lamps, you should then dismount from the cab and carry out a visual check around the vehicle, if the vehicle is fitted with air suspension this should be raised at this point. Start at the front and inspect the offside front tyre for wear and any cuts etc, then move to the front of the cab and check all lights for operation, look at the windscreen for chips and cracks and check the road fund license is in date and that there is an operator’s license and that that is also in date, and check the front license plate for cleanliness and security, don’t forget also to inspect the wiper blades. Move round to the nearside looking at the nearside front tyre moving along check all suzy air and electrical lines for correct fitting and make sure that they are tangle free and not snagged up on the trailer. As you walk by the battery tray make sure that the lid is fitted properly and then move down to the rear wheels of the tractor unit and inspect both inner and outer tyres, remember that I mentioned earlier to raise that air suspension, this is to allow you to inspect the tread depth in both the tyres especially the inner one, it is also handy if you carry a tyre tread depth gauge in case you see a tyre that is looking worn you can measure it properly.
Moving along and remembering to check side lights as you go, look at the trailer landing legs and see if they are properly wound up, make sure that the feet mounts are not worn, and that the handle is stowed away. Walking along the trailer to the rear of the vehicle you should be checking all side lights for operation and also looking for the trailer plate and MOT disc this can be anywhere along the chassis so you may not find it yet, it is sometimes mounted on the front of the trailer so be sure to look there as well. When you have reached the rear wheels check the wheel nuts for tightness and presence and check tyre tread depth here also, all mudguards should be fitted and not loose and the spray suppressors should also be present, if these are missing you should not drive the vehicle and report it to your transport manager. If it is a curtain side type trailer check that all the buckles are done up properly and that there are no large rips or tears in the sheet. Around the back of the trailer check all lights and security of the number plate, get someone to depress the brake pedal to check brake lights, if no one available check by reflection, at this point open the trailer doors and check load for security and then move on to the offside rear trailer wheels and tyres and check these as described earlier. Moving along towards the front of the vehicle, if you have not found it yet, keep looking for the trailer plate and MOT disc. At the front of the trailer look at the fifth wheel and check that the dog clip is in place and again check the suzy lines. When you are back in the cab depress the brake pedal and listen for the air compressor to make sure that it is working and that the compressed air is being charged. If you happen to change your trailer you should carry out these checks again and you should also do it again at some point later in the day, after you have stopped for your break is a good time.
If you have found anything wrong you should in the first instance inform your transport manager so that he can advise you on what course of action to take. If there is something seriously wrong and you drive the vehicle you are risking your life, the publics and you and your company could be fined should you be stopped by VOSA or be involved in an accident.