Welcome back! This is part 2 of your guide to pre-drive safety checks as a HGV driver.
If you’re driving for a living, you already know that the physical driving is only part of the role. There are a number of other things you will need to do and responsibilities you hold as a driver. In the first part of this series, we detailed all of the different safety checks you need to do on the inside of your vehicle each day before you start driving. These checks are to ensure that everything is working properly, and more importantly, safe. Now that you know what the inside checks are, this part will cover the external vehicle checks, and what each of them mean.
Once you’re happy with the inside of your vehicle, it’s now time to check the outside! This section covers every element on the outside of your main cab, as well as the safety of your trailer. This section covers:
Lights and indicators: Your lights are an essential piece of safety gear, so it’s important to make sure they’re all working correctly. Make sure they are all turning on and off properly, that all lenses are fitted, clean and the right colour. You also need to check that the stop lamps come on when you apply the service brake and go out when you release it (you might need a friend for this, or to back the vehicle up against a wall so that you can see the lights. You will also need to make sure your marker lights are fitted and work.
Fuel and oil leaks: Check that your fuel filler cap is present and fitted correctly. Turn on the engine and check underneath the vehicle for any fuel or oil leaks as well.
Battery security and conditions: While the battery is ‘inside’ the vehicle, it comes under the exterior checks. Open the bonnet of the HGV and check that your battery is present, secure, in good condition and not leaking.
Diesel exhaust fluid (AdBlue): If you drive a diesel vehicle, check that it has enough AdBlue diesel exhaust fluid, and top it up if it’s running low.
Excessive engine exhaust smoke: Smoke is generally a bad thing in any vehicle, but it can be catastrophic for a HGV. Check that the exhaust doesn’t emit an excessive amount of smoke, and if it does, get it checked immediately.
Security of body and wings: This section is to ensure there is nothing loose on your vehicle that could fly off and hurt someone. Here you need to check that all fastening devices work, that cab doors and trailer doors are secure when closed, and that body panels on tractors or trailers are secure and not likely to fall off. If you have landing legs fitted, make sure they are secure and not likely to fly off, and that your sideguards and rear under-run guards are fitted if required on your vehicle, and not damaged or insecure.
Spray suppression: If spray suppression flaps are required for your vehicle, check that they are fitted, secure, not damaged, and no clogged with mud or debris.
Tyres and wheel fixing: Check that:
Brake lines and trailer parking brake: Make sure that your couplings are free of debris and positioned correctly, there are no leaks, damage or wear to the brake lines, and the parking brake for the trailer works. After you’ve done the initial brake test you will need to do the secondary test – leave the engine running so that pressure can build up. This will make it easier to hear any leaks as you carry out the rest of the walkaround checks.
Electrical connections: Check each electrical connection and make sure that any visible wiring is properly insulated, is not likely to get caught or damaged, and any trailer couplings are connected securely. You will also need to check that all electrical switches on the vehicle work correctly.
Coupling security: Making sure that your vehicle is securely attached to your trailer is essential to HGV safety – not to mention getting your cargo from A to B. So make sure that your vehicle is securely attached to your trailer, and that the trailer is located correctly in the fifth wheel or coupling, and that the secondary locking devices are in the correct position.
Security of load: Once your HGV is loaded, make sure that it’s not likely to move during transit. This means ensuring your using 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, and reload or re-secure it if necessary.
Number plate: Inspect your number plate and make sure it’s not broken or incomplete, that it is legally correct and isn’t dirty, faded or covered by anything. In short, it needs to be clearly visible at all times.
Reflectors: Check that your reflectors are present, intact, secure, fitted correctly, clean and the right colour.
Markings and warning plates: Each HGV is marked differently, so you will need to adjust your checks based on your individual vehicle. Make sure the markings (including compicuity markings) are the right colour, visible, securely fastened and not obscured by anything. If the vehicle is carrying hazardous goods, you will also need to make sure the vehicle shows the correct information for the load, that that information is visible, securely fastened and not obscured.
And that’s it! We know this is a long list, but honestly, it doesn’t take that long, and it’s integral to the health and safety of you and other users on the road. If you would like to know more, just get in touch with us today.
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