Why vehicle checks matter for commercial fleets

Roadworthy vehicles are the backbone of your fleet’s success. Daily vehicle checks can make a major difference for your fleet productivity and safety. Learn exactly why below, where we describe the importance of daily walkarounds for commercial fleets.

Safety

Safety is the primary reason for daily vehicle checks. Webfleet research bears that out. For our European Road Safety Report, we surveyed 1050 fleet decision makers. And when it came to identifying the most common causes of accidents, a stunning 66% pointed to vehicle failures due to a lack of maintenance.

According to the European Parliament, roughly 5% of accidents are due to technical failures, while poor maintenance accounts for 4%. In the UK, the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) found that one in eight trucks registered outside the UK were driving with problematic defects. Wherever trucks may be registered and driving, brake failure is one of the most reported defects. Failures in lighting, axles, steering, suspension, tachograph, tyres and emissions are also top issues.

With these facts in mind, it’s not surprising that vehicle defects are a cause of fatal accidents. Daily inspections help prevent road deaths and serious injuries, since drivers check brake pads and other crucial truck parts—and report any defects.

Compliance

In the UK, drivers are legally required to do a walkaround before getting on the road each day. While walkarounds aren’t mandated in the EU, EU-registered HGVs that operate in the UK must do daily inspections. Conversely, unannounced roadside inspections can be done for any vehicle in the EU, regardless of where the vehicle is registered.

In both the UK and the EU, roadside inspections and MOTs are enshrined in law. The purpose is establishing that commercial vehicles are roadworthy and thus safe. The EU says that more than 1200 lives could be saved with its roadworthiness package, which includes measures on roadside inspections and periodic checks.

According to the Moving On blog at Gov.UK, most commercial trucks and trailers (89%) pass their MOTs the first time around. Yet for those that failed the annual inspection, it’s likely that some deciding issues could’ve easily been spotted and addressed by walkarounds.

Daily walkarounds can lead to smooth roadside inspections in the EU, as there’s solid documentation on the vehicle’s roadworthiness. All drivers need to do is show the right paperwork—and cooperate with inspectors, who may ask to check the vehicle.

Efficiency

Keeping vehicles on the road is one of your biggest responsibilities as a fleet owner or manager. You can’t totally avoid downtime—vehicles need to be maintained on a regular basis, after all. But you can dodge unexpected downtime, and driver walkarounds help you do that.

By checking your fleet vehicles daily, drivers play a role in preventative maintenance, since reporting defects assures you can proactively address them. Preventing breakdowns is essential for road safety, not to mention customer satisfaction: Delays can mean financial and reputational consequences for broken service agreements.

Well-maintained vehicles are unquestionably more reliable than poorly maintained ones. When you factor in increased uptime and improved service levels, it’s hard to overlook the benefits for your bottom line.

How to be confident that drivers do complete walkarounds

image of fleet manager at desk

A study in the UK and Ireland shows that nearly 40% of HGV drivers never do walkaround checks, while another 16% rarely do. We discovered in our European Road Safety survey that 71% of drivers don’t inform fleet managers about risks like tyre underinflation. With so much at stake in terms of safety, compliance and efficiency, fleets can’t afford not to carry out full daily inspections.

Let’s underline that point with the faulty brakes issue noted above. Commercial trucks weigh 20 to 30 times more than a typical passenger car, presenting huge safety and liability risks in the case of brake failure. Worn out brakes are also a key reason trucks fail MOT inspections. Brake pads can be tricky to examine on trucks with multiple axles, so they may get overlooked. But that’s the point with daily checks: making sure nothing gets skipped over and that vehicle defects get reported and addressed.

Simplifying daily walkarounds can help ensure your drivers do complete checks. The DVSA provides a 24-point list of what should be checked both inside and outside the vehicle. The agency also offers a three-minute video demonstration of a walkaround. Creating predefined checklists that you print out for drivers is one way to systematise walkarounds. On the other hand, that leaves you with a mountain of paperwork to deal with—and no immediate clarity on defects.

Digitising the vehicle inspection process is the easiest way to manage daily checks, for you and your drivers. With Webfleet’s Vehicle Check app, for example, drivers use their mobile phone to complete their walkarounds. They simply access your preferred checklist (as predefined in the app or as customised for your business), carry out the check and submit the report. They can even upload supporting images.

Because driver walkaround reports are filed digitally, you have real-time access to them, enabling fast decision making. With a tool like Vehicle Check, you’re notified if drivers try to head out before submitting a report. Another benefit is stress-free roadside inspections. With digital reports at their fingertips, drivers can quickly provide evidence of walkarounds and roadworthiness.

Any way you look at it, daily walkarounds matter for commercial fleets.

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