The Driver & Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) has announced improvements to its heavy vehicle walkaround check guidance, and created a new video to help HGV drivers carry out their daily walkaround checks and improve road safety.
The new guide contains the video, a walkaround diagram, details of what to look for, and a template to record defects – all in one place for the first time. It is available here.
“Daily walkaround checks are vital for road safety and make sure that heavy vehicles are roadworthy and safe to drive,” said DVSA.
“As drivers are always legally responsible for the condition of the heavy vehicle they are driving, they must carry out a daily walkaround check. The results of these checks must be recorded and any safety defects must be reported and fixed before the vehicle is used.”
The agency recommends that this check is carried out before the vehicle is driven on the road each day. If more than one driver uses a vehicle during the day, the driver taking charge should make sure it is roadworthy and safe to drive by carrying out their own walkaround check before setting off.
“The walkaround check drivers must do, must cover the whole vehicle or combination if towing a trailer,” continued the agency.
“The check covers interior and exterior items that can be safely assessed by the driver.”
In 2018/19 DVSA issued 35,744 prohibitions following mechanical checks. Tyre condition, brake systems and components, steering, lamps, direction indicators and hazard warning lamps were amongst the top 10 reasons HGV and PSVs were prohibited at the roadside.
“These as well as other items must be checked every day by drivers as part of the walkaround check, so DVSA enforcement officers should not be routinely picking these up,” the agency emphasised.
“Lorries must be roadworthy at all times and drivers and operators should not wait until the next safety inspection to fix these defects.
“It is equally important that drivers monitor their vehicle and report any safety defect that occurs on the journey, which may mean the vehicle needs to be repaired at the roadside or recovered to a workshop to make it safe to drive.”
DVSA’s new improved walkaround check guide has been designed to make the walkaround check easier for HGV and PSV drivers. The guidance is said to more clearly reflect what DVSA vehicle examiners look for during roadside checks so drivers do not also have to look at the full ‘categorisation of vehicle defects’ guide to understand.
The new guide also makes it easier to read the guidance on a mobile phone, says the agency, adding that in the last five years, the percentage of people accessing this content has almost tripled (12.5 per cent to 32.9 per cent).
DVSA has also updated the HGV walkaround check video to make it shorter.
“DVSA data shows that hardly anyone watched all of the old version – it was nearly half an hour long. As a result, drivers were missing vital road safety messages.”
The new walkaround guide also highlights an issue that has seen increased publicity in recent months – that of bridge strikes. The guidance now makes it clearer that drivers should check their vehicle height as part of the check.
According to Network Rail there are five bridge strikes every day that can cause death or serious injury to road and rail users.
“Not only are bridge strikes dangerous but they cost the UK taxpayer around £23m a year to repair, as well as landing the owner of the vehicle with substantial costs,” said DVSA.
“Network Rail research shows that 43 per cent of lorry drivers admit to not measuring their vehicle before heading out on the road.
“Drivers of HGVs must check the height of these vehicles and load before they set off and why the guidance on this has been made clearer and included in the new video.”
DVSA says it will monitor the updated guidance and video to see how the content is working and to make further improvements. It will also be developing a video for PSVs based on the performance of the new shorter HGV video, and says it would welcome viewers’ feedback.