Driving can be a dangerous activity. Road traffic accidents account for a staggering 1.24 million deaths per year globally. Aside from poor driving skills and road conditions, mechanical failure, poor vehicle maintenance and tyre failure/condition is a major contributing factor.
Most countries have in place legislation to govern the regular inspection of vehicles. Once your vehicle has met these standards, it’s easy to become complacent and undertake no further checks. In reality the legal requirement is your baseline; by making series of simple checks before you get into your vehicle, you can prevent incidents and save lives.
When driving an unfamiliar vehicle it is essential that you familiarise yourself with the vehicle and know where the controls are before setting off to drive.
Part of your Daily Routine
Every time we get into a vehicle, we automatically make quite a few checks, probably without even realising it. For example, we check the mirrors are aligned, we have fuel and our seatbelt is fastened.
By adding on a few simple other checks, you can very quickly create your own vehicle inspection routine that will ensure the safety of yourself, your vehicle and other road users.
It may look like a long list but in reality, it should take no longer than 5 minutes to complete and will quickly become habit.
Daily Inspection Programme
Once you’ve identified a robust checking process that works for you, why not formalise it into a set of procedures that every driver is required to follow? This will help to get everyone practising good habits.
If the vehicle does not meet your standards, then it should not be driven. Items should marked for repair or if it’s not considered to be a critical repair, then the vehicle should be booked in for repair within a set timeframe and the vehicle can be driven until this is carried out.
Critical Equipment List
Regulations will vary from country to country, but here’s an example of the types of items that are considered critical. Every element must meet the standard regulations; otherwise the vehicle is not roadworthy:
- Coupling devices (fifth wheel and kingpin)
- Steering mechanism
- Windshield wipers
A more thorough inspection can be carried out at regular intervals, for example weekly or monthly. The checks could include:
- Fluid levels – engine oil, brakes, clutch, power steering and auto transmission fluids (if relevant)
- Windscreen washer
- Battery – look for signs of corrosion
- Ensure all lights are working headlights, brake lights, indicators
- Tyre check – pressure, tread, wear and tear such as cuts or bulges
What every vehicle should carry
- First aid kit
- Spare fuses
- Warning triangles
- Spare tyre
- High visibility clothing
It’s much easier to spot issues on a vehicle that is well maintained and this is particularly important if the vehicle is shared with other drivers.
- Keeping the vehicle clean and tidy allows the driver to spot new issues such as leaks, worn parts and damage.
- Remember to properly stow in-cab items such as emergency equipment, tools and personal items to prevent potential injury.
360° Circle of Safety Programme
- Each time you get into your vehicle, walk around it, starting on the passenger side and ending on the driver side.
- This is another opportunity to spot mechanical issues, but more importantly any potential hazards around the vehicle.
Remember, inspecting your vehicle should be part of your daily routine. Never overlook the importance of checking it as it could save your life and the lives of others.
Go the extra mile with your safety checks and you’ll continue to go for many more miles.