HGV daily walkaround checks

Written by: Simon Pavey, Last updated:13th February 2023

A large HGV travels across country to deliver or collect goods for the next business location

Drivers, vehicle operators and transport and fleet managers have a collective responsibility to ensure that the vehicles they are operating are safe to drive and that they’re roadworthy. While this is true of all types of vehicles, there are specific checks that must be carried out for lorries and other HGV’s daily, before the start of each journey.

What is an HGV daily check?

HGV daily checks, also referred to as walkaround checks, must be carried out before each journey to fulfil the obligation of ensuring a vehicle to safe to drive. The walkaround checks the drivers must do, need to cover the whole vehicle, including the trailer that the vehicle is towing and carefully assesses the interior and exterior items that can be safely assessed by the driver.

The checks that the drivers must carry out include: tyre condition, brake systems and components, steering, lamps, direction indicators and hazard warning lamps.

The latest walkaround guide issued by the DVSA also highlights an issue that has seen increased publicity in recent years – that of bridge strikes. The guidance now makes it clearer that drivers should be checking their vehicle height as part of the checks.

According to Network Rail, there are five bridge strikes every day that can cause death or serious injury to road and rail users. The DVSA has said that “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 substantial costs”.

The DVSA has updated their guidance video, highlighting some of the main checks that need to be completed.

Drivers are legally responsible for the condition of the heavy vehicle they are driving, so they must carry out these walkaround checks before each journey. The results of the checks must be recorded and any safety defects need to be reported and fixed before the vehicle is driven.

How long should HGV daily checks take?

The HGV daily checks are relatively simple, but it is important to do a comprehensive, thorough check of the vehicle.

With this in mind, the exact time it can take will vary. The emphasis should be placed on carrying out the checks thoroughly and carefully, rather than the length of time it takes to check your vehicle.

There are some sources that say the checks should take at least 15 minutes to complete, but it may take longer than this. The important thing to carry out each of the necessary checks before starting your journey, regardless of how long it takes.

A truck driver holding clipboard checking safety a large fuel tank of semi truck.

The latest DVSA guidance about walkaround checks

Carrying out HGV daily checks

To maintain roadworthiness, the DVSA has advised that the daily HGV walkaround checks must be completed

  • Before the vehicle is driven on the road each day
  • If more than one driver uses the vehicle in a day, then the driver taking charge of the vehicle should carry out their own additional checks to ensure the vehicle is safe for them to drive

The driver must also monitor the condition of their vehicle and report any defects that make themselves apparent.

Keeping a record of HGV daily checks

The driver must record all of the defects found during the daily checks and any that become apparent during a journey. It’s recommended that an agreed form or system is used to record the checks.

Forms should be used to record that all the relevant checks have been carried out each day. If no defects were discovered, the DVSA guidance states that a ‘nil’ reporting method is used, therefore confirming that checks were made, but no defects were found.

If defects are discovered during the checks, the records should include:

  • The vehicle registration
  • The date
  • Details of the defects or symptoms
  • Your assessment of the defects (e.g. ‘dangerous’)
  • Your name
  • Who the defect was reported to
  • Rectification work
  • Date rectification work was completed

Records should be reported to responsible person who has the ability to request the remedial action and records should be kept and be available for viewing for 15 months.

If any defects are discovered that may impact the vehicles safety, the vehicle must not be used until its repaired.

Responsibility for HGV daily checks

The condition and safety of the HGV is ultimately the legal responsibility of the driver. However, transport managers and vehicle operators must ensure that their processes include daily HGV checks. They must also ensure that drivers are made aware of their legal responsibilities with regards to vehicle condition and the procedures of reporting defects.

The DVSA recommends that responsibilities are detailed in writing and that drivers should be properly trained and drivers should sign to confirm that they’ve received a written copy of their responsibilities and understand what is required of them.

The consequences of not carrying out HGV daily checks

The DVSA can stop you and ask you to complete the daily checks on your vehicle, or request a copy of the records which show you have completed the necessary daily checks.

If any defects are found on a vehicle during one of these checks, drivers can be prevented from driving until the defect is fixed, or a fine can issued to the driver.

Driver writing electronic log

Carrying out daily checks to ensure that vehicles are of the highest safety standard is the duty of every driver and manager. It’s now much easier with the MyDriveSafe.Expert app, free to download and use, plus a manager’s portal and full reporting and compliance with all major standards for just £1 per driver per week.

The MyDriveSafe app reduces admin time, records the time taken to perform checks, creates incident/accident reports and produces a clear audit trail, helping you to spot problems earlier, avoid increasing costs and keep your fleet on the road.