According to a new survey by vehicle and fleet safety specialists CameraMatics, the majority of HGV drivers do not consistently carry out checks. Ensuring daily walkaround checks happen is part of the commitment an HGV fleet operator makes to receive a license and an important part of ongoing compliance.
However, it’s drivers who are responsible for the state of the vehicle they drive. Does this split responsibility mean it’s easy for regular and adequate checks to fall through the cracks?
CameraMatics surveyed over 500 UK and Ireland based drivers, asking how often they carry out daily walkaround checks. Somewhat shockingly almost 40% (39.3%) of drivers responded ‘I never do checks’, with a further 15.8% saying they rarely complete checks.
So, over half of those surveyed (55.1%) reported that they do not regularly carry out regular walkaround checks.
Just 29.4% of drivers told CameraMatics they always complete checks, with 15.5% saying they usually do them.
Walkaround checks should be a part of every driver’s pre-journey routine. The best way of ensuring this is for operators to have processes in place for checks to happen and be recorded. But, according to the survey results, it seems all too frequently they are missed. And at what cost?
Checks are important for a whole range of reasons. Completing them means drivers and fleet operators are constantly aware of the state of their vehicle(s). The DVSA reported in January 2020 that 85% of lorry defects can be picked up during a walkaround check. Very often these defects are quickly and inexpensively solved.
Leaving the depot with a defective vehicle can store up trouble – and in many cases, danger. Problems don’t disappear on their own and driving a vehicle that isn’t fully functional is putting the driver, the operator, and other road users at risk.
There’s also the legal aspect. Drivers can receive an unlimited fine and even a prison sentence for using an HGV in a dangerous condition, and there are many sanctions for operators too. In the event of an accident, incident, or being pulled over by an enforcement agency, evidence of adequate walkaround vehicle checks will be sought. Lack of evidence could lead to insurance issues in the event of a claim or pay-out. In this circumstance, both the driver and the operator can be liable.
CameraMatics also surveyed over 250 HGV fleet managers about vehicle checking systems. Surprisingly, given the digital age we live in, over 50% of respondents are still using a pen and paper system for checks.
Commenting on the results, CameraMatics Founder & Director, Simon Murray, said, “It’s concerning to hear that over 50% of drivers say they do not carry out regular walkaround checks. Our experience tells us that using an app like CameraMatics Go for walkaround checks significantly improves safety and compliance.
He continued “It allows fleets to ditch unreliable and inefficient pen and paper systems. As well as giving managers an instant notification of check completion and results there’s also a time and location-stamped record of every check. This can be crucial in the event of enforcement or insurance issues.”