If you’re a professional HGV driver, then you already know just how many little tasks are involved in your job, And if you’re not a driver yet, then let us be the first to tell you – being a HGV driver is about more than just driving. You are responsible for the loading and unloading of your vehicle, the health and safety of everyone involved, planning routes and a fair bit of paperwork as well. But while some of these tasks can change every day, one of these jobs will stay the same – and after a while it will become so routine you’ll almost forget you’re doing it. And that’s your pre-drive safety checks. If you’re already a driver, consider this a refresher, and if you haven’t qualified yet, here’s what you should be looking out for. There’s a lot to cover, so we’re going to be breaking this up into 2 parts – inside and outside checks – starting with the inside checks.
And don’t worry – we know it’s a big list – but it doesn’t take as long as you think!
Inside The Vehicle
Your pre-drive checks should start on the inside of your vehicle, ensuring that everything is safe, in place and fully operational. This includes:
- Mirrors and glass: Here you should be checking the condition of your windscreen and mirrors. In particular, make sure your windscreen isn’t cracked, scratched or discoloured, and that the windscreen and front side windows aren’t excessively tinted. Your mirrors should all be in place, with no damaged or missing glass, obscured view or insecure fixtures. If you have a camera system instead of mirrors, check that this is all working properly.
- Windscreen wipers and washers: Make sure your windscreen wipers work, and aren’t missing or damaged. Test your washers and ensure you have adequate washer fluid.
- Front view: Check that there isn’t anything getting in the way of your front view, and you have a full, clear view from the drivers seat. As a general rule, there should be nothing in the swept area of the windscreen – with the exception of some official or road safety stickers.
- Dashboard warning lights and gauges: Turn on your engine and check that your instruments, gauges and warning lights are all working correctly, and not displaying warning messages.
- Steering: Get behind the wheel and check that it moves properly, with no excessive play, your power steering is still working, and the wheel doesn’t jam.
- Horn: Check that your horn works, and is easily accessible from the driver’s seat.
- Brakes and air build-up: Check and test your breaks to make sure:
- That the air builds up correctly and the warning system works
- There are no air leaks
- The footwell is clear
- The service brake operates the tractor and trailer brakes
- The parking brake for your trailer works
- The service break pedal doesn’t have any excessive side play or missing, loose or incomplete anti-slip tread
- Height marker: HGVs are heavy and tall vehicles, and their height can change depending on a lot of things, including load weight, or the fifth wheel being adjusted. So before you set off, check that the correct vehicle height is displayed on the vehicle height marker in the cab.
- Seatbelts: Check that all of your seatbelts are in good working order, with no cuts, damage or fraying. They should stay secure when you plug them in, and retract against you when fitted, and retract fully when taken off.
Don’t worry – it’s not as scary as it looks! And if you think you might need some help remembering it all, you can download this check sheet from the DVLA to help you. And that’s it for Part 1 – stay tuned for Part 2, which will cover the outside vehicle safety checks.
At The HGV Training Centre, we specialise in helping aspiring HGV drivers learn everything there is to know about your new career as a HGV driver, and what you can expect from it. These pre-drive safety checks are thoroughly covered in our training courses, and are a key part of your tests later on down the line. If you would like to know more about our training courses, just get in touch with us today.