Vehicle safety checklist
The same study also reported that the number of driver deaths rose by 4% during the same period. But 25% of businesses fail to conduct regular vehicle safety checks, according to research from TomTom Telematics2. A simple checklist can make it quick and easy to assess a fleet vehicle's condition before driving. Here are our suggestions:
1. Tyre tread and pressuresTyres must have at least 1.6mm depth of tread3. Driving without this amount of tread is illegal and can affect your grip, braking distance and steering. If you place a 20p coin in the tread of a tyre and cannot see the outer band of the coin, then the tread is above the legal limit.
Tyre pressures can also affect braking distance and steering. Check the vehicle handbook for recommended pressures and fit a tyre pressure gauge in the vehicle’s glovebox.
2. Windscreen, wipers and washersLook for stone damage or other chips and cracks so the driver cannot be distracted whilst driving. Windscreen repairs are often covered in insurance plans. Check for wear and tear of the wiper blades by looking for cracking, dryness or stiffness.
Ensure screenwash is topped up. During the winter months water is likely to freeze so use 50% windscreen washer fluid.
3. Seatbelts, steering and horn
Check for rips and tears in the seatbelt. The strap should lock in place quickly and fit snugly around the body. Buckles must fasten smoothly and securely, they should also release quickly.
Test that the horn sounds when pressed. Turn the steering wheel to check it is not excessively loose.
4. Engine, lights and brakes
Listen out for any rattling, knocking or unusual noises from the engine. Test that all lights, including indicators, brake and fog lights, are working. Seeing and being seen is vital to staying safe on the road.
Test that the foot brake does not feel spongy. Ensure the handbrake does not come too far up when applying it, and is not loose.
5. Handbook and toolbox
Check the vehicle has its handbook and guides. This will show where the vehicle toolkit is. Ensure it is in the correct place and contains all relevant equipment.
What else can you do?
Encouraging employees to report any problems will help keep vehicles on the road, and employees themselves safe. A checklist will help staff identify and report any issues early on. They are the first line of defence against unexpected breakdowns and repairs that could lead to an accident. Also ensure that servicing is completed regularly, the log book is monitored and any defect reporting process is followed.
Make sure you review the terms and conditions on your insurance policy. Check that any repairs and replacements won’t affect your excess. Ensure you have enough protection for your vehicles and employees.
There are also other ways to ensure employees are safe behind the wheel. Technology such as dashboard cameras can help. You should also regularly check that driving licenses and insurance documentation is up to date. Only 43% of UK firms do this more than once every six months4.