Driver Checks

Health and Safety and the Importance of Pre-Use Vehicle Checks

Health and safety when it comes to transport isn’t just about what happens in the operating centre, it is about what happens in any business to ensure that people and property are protected. The primary legislation for this area of law is the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and this should be at the centre of everything which you do as all secondary legislation like regulations goes back to this crucial act.

To promote a positive health and safety culture you have toy involve everyone in the business and that is not just employees it is other stakeholders too. The role the driver plays to ensure that a vehicle is not taken out onto the public highway in a poor condition will ensure safety, and will prevent putting anyone or anything at risk and this is essential.

As the maintenance system is a crucial part of the a company when it comes to meeting it’s health and safety requirements, we focus on this first, in the way that it is looked at by health and safety law and this starts with the initial vehicle check.

Pre-use vehicle checks are essential for ensuring that your vehicles are in safe working order and provide a regular opportunity to identify any maintenance issues or damage before it leads to more serious and potentially costly issues, which reduces the risk of accidents and breakdowns during use. 

Pre-use checks should be completed by the operator of the vehicle BEFORE they start the engine and need to be recorded with the records being kept for a minimum of 15 months, this is a traffic commissioner requirement.  The easiest way to ensure that each check is carried out is for each driver is to use a checklist form. This can be in an app format (which we now supply and promote due to audit purposes), or as a written document, one copy of which should be kept with the vehicle and another should be kept by the office/depot.

Vehicles should not be used until the checks have been carried out. Any vehicle that is found to have a fault needs to be assessed for its roadworthiness.  This could mean not being used or a simple fix that can take place prior to the vehicle setting off i.e. windscreen wash being topped up. 

Ensure that operatives know who to report faults to and only allow people who have received the relevant information, instruction and training to carry out maintenance works. All personnel need to be competent, that means have the experience or training to carry out their duties. Please ask us if you need guidance with this.

Key areas to check prior to setting off include (but are not limited to):

• Fuel, coolant and engine oil levels – is there enough fuel for the journey or does the vehicle need topping up, are coolant and engine oil levels correct. 

• Windscreen wash & wipers – is the windscreen washer working, is there enough fluid, are the wipers damaged or worn. 

• Brakes – check the brakes are working and that footwells are clear (so items cannot become lodged under the brakes).

• Windscreen – does it have any cracks or scratches. 

• Lights – are all the lights working, are covers cracked.

• Tyres & wheel fixings – are the treads adequate, are they inflated correctly, are the wheels and tyres secure, is there any cord visible anywhere on the tyre. 

• Mirrors – are they in place, free from obstructions, cracked or scratched. 

• Number plate – is it clearly visible, free from dirt and cracks.

• Ladders, steps and walkways – ensure that any ladders / steps to gain access to the vehicle cab and vehicle body, are free from dirt, grit, rust, water or oil that could cause the operatives to slip. 

It is also useful to have a vehicle diagram on the check sheet, whereby operatives can mark any existing damage on the diagram of the vehicle, or take photos if using an app. This both protects the driver from accusations of damage (especially if the vehicle is used by multiple drivers) and makes it easy for any new damage to be seen when the vehicle is checked back in at the end of a shift (or prior to it going out for the next shift). 

Before setting off, ensure that the vehicle is safely, evenly and securely loaded.  Make sure the right type of load securing system is in place for the load, so that it will not move during transit. Safe loading training is a must with DVSA now even focusing on drivers having specific training where a roadside stop has taken place and the load found not to meet the required load restraint.

If you need any further information please get in touch with or call 0345 9001312.

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