Driver defect reporting forms part of an operator’s maintenance system. Having a robust and effective driver defect reporting system cannot be over emphasised. The driver is the person who normally inspects their vehicle before they take it out on the road, and is therefore the eyes and ears of the operator every time they use a company vehicle.
Drivers must be made aware of their legal responsibilities regarding a vehicle’s roadworthiness and the procedures for reporting defects. They may be fined or prosecuted for roadworthiness offences found on vehicles if they are considered partly or wholly responsible.
Traffic Commissioners can take action against a driver who fails to complete an adequate walkaround check. This could lead to a driver conduct hearing, which may result in the loss of their vocational driving licence.
When it comes to defect reporting the Guide to maintaining roadworthiness section 3.1 states the following:
There must be a system of reporting and recording defects that may affect the
roadworthiness of the vehicle. This must include how they were rectified before
the vehicle is used. Daily defect checks are vital, and the results of such
checks must be recorded as part of the maintenance system. It is important
that enough time is allowed for the completion of walkaround checks and that
staff are trained to carry them out thoroughly. Drivers should be made aware
that daily defect reporting is one of the critical elements of any effective vehicle
Tyres, lamps, indicators, wheels, hubs, and load security appear in the top ten prohibition items picked up by roadside enforcement. These are items that are included as part of a driver’s daily check list:
- Tyres – checked for visible damage, cuts, adequate tread
- Lamps and indicators – operation, cleanliness including any damage to lenses or reflectors
- Wheel and hubs – security (signs of movement, evidence of loose wheel nuts, rust marked, the position /alignment of wheel nut indicator devices (if fitted), which can indicate if wheel nuts have moved)
From a load security point of view, the driver has a responsibility to ensure any means of load securing equipment carried on the vehicle and used by themselves, such as ratchet straps, ropes chains etc are in good order. The driver should also have received training regarding the checking of the equipment they are required to use. They should also be made aware of the correct procedure to follow should any equipment be found to be faulty. The operator should ensure there is a procedure/company policy in place regarding faulty equipment.
The driver should be capable of carrying out a satisfactory daily walkaround check of the vehicle they are driving and have sufficient training on the vehicle/trailer they are checking (this should include any equipment fitted to the vehicle such as cranes or tail lifts etc). There should also be some form of pre-use training for drivers regarding any new vehicles entering the fleet that they are unfamiliar with.
The driver must also be allowed adequate time to carry out a daily walkaround check. Contrary to popular belief, there is no set time to carry out a walkaround check, and this will vary according to the type and size of vehicle they are driving. For instance, a drawbar combination would take longer to check than a 7.5 tonne dropside truck.
Driver daily walkaround check training can be included as part of their driver CPC requirement. As well as contributing to a driver’s periodic training hours, this would also be a beneficial part of their training.
A record of the check, including a check list should be used by the driver. This can be done using a paper-based system or electronically via a handheld device.
Using a Nil defect reporting system is good practice. Any defects found by the driver would be known as positive defect reports. These should be kept for the minimum 15 months and filed in the vehicle history file as they form part of your maintenance system. They must show who the defect was reported to and any rectification action carried out. Nil defect reports should be kept for as long as they are useful, for example keeping a rolling safety inspection cycle, 6, 8, 10, or 13 weeks of reports would show DVSA (Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency) that you have a system in place. This would also allow an operator to quality monitor any driver reportable defects such as lamps, tyres etc that were evident on a safety inspection report, when the previous day the driver had submitted a Nil defect report.
DEFECT REPORTING PROCEDURE
Where the driver finds a defect, they should know the correct procedure to follow. All drivers’ defect reports must be given to a responsible person with sufficient authority to ensure that any appropriate action is taken. This might include taking the vehicle out of service. Common failings found when an operator’s system is audited include reported defects not being assessed or rectified. It is no good the driver carrying out the daily walkaround check, finding a defect and the defect is not actioned due to the lack of a robust system or staff not following up on the defect.
REPAIRING A DEFECT
A driver can carry out minor repairs provided they have had sufficient training. This training would need to be evidenced. Any defects repaired by the driver should also be recorded as per the company’s defect reporting system.
In conclusion, the driver plays an important role in helping to ensure a vehicle is in a roadworthy condition while being used on the public highway. As an operator, you need to ensure your drivers have had the required training and fully understand the defect reporting procedure for your company. You also need to be confident that the defect reporting system you have in place works! Results from DVSA Maintenance Investigation Visit Reports (MIVR), identified common failings such as reported defects not being assessed or rectified.
A robust driver defect reporting system, which includes trained and conscientious drivers, is an asset to your business and can help you and your drivers avoid roadworthiness prohibitions and fixed penalties. Investing in your drivers and ensuring you have a robust driver defect system in place can pay dividends when it comes to vehicle roadworthiness issues and retention of your operator licence.