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Beyond The Driving – Your Pre-Drive Safety Checklist (Part 2)

Welcome back! If you’re just joining us for the first time, we recommend you go back and read the first instalment of this series. That covers all of the interior vehicle checks you will need to do every day before you start driving your HGV for the first time. These safety checks are absolutely essential for the safety of not only you, but other road users, and help ensure your load will make it to its destination on time. In part 2, we’re moving to the outside of the vehicle, and all of the exterior checks you need to do.


Outside The Vehicle

Once you’ve done your interior checks, you now need to move around the vehicle and check the exterior too. There are 15 different checks to do here, that cover every element on the outside of your main cab, as well as the safety of your trailer.


Lights and indicators: Lights are one of your most important safety features, so you need to make sure they are all working correctly. This means checking that they are all turning on and off properly, that all lenses are fitted and not cracked or damaged, are clean and the right colour for their position on the vehicle. You’ll also need to do a stop lamp check to make sure that they go on when you apply the service brake, and go off when you remove it.

Fuel and oil leaks: Check that your fuel filler cap is present, fitted correctly and closed securely. You should also turn on your engine and look underneath the vehicle to ensure there are no leaks from the fuel or oil lines.

Battery security and conditions: Open up the bonnet of your vehicle and check that it has a battery, and that it’s secure, in good condition and not leaking anything.

Diesel exhaust fluid (AdBlue): If you drive a diesel HGV (as is most common), then you need to check your fuel levels and your AdBlue diesel exhaust fluid levels, to make sure it has enough, and top it up if you’re running low.

Excessive engine exhaust smoke: Smoke is never a good thing, especially from an HGV. Check your exhaust, and if you see excess smoke, get it checked out right away.

Security of body and wings: This is all about making sure there is nothing lose that can fly off your vehicle as you drive. Check that all of your fastening devises work, that cab doors and trailer doors are secure when closed, and that the body panels on trailers are secure and not likely to fall off. If your HGV is fitted with landing legs, these need to be secured as well, and if you have sideguards and rear under-run guards, these need to be secure and not damaged.

Spray suppression: If your HGV required spray suppression flaps, make sure these are fitted, secure and not clogged up with mud and debris.

Tyres and wheel fixing: Check that:

  • The tyres and wheels are secure
  • The tyres have a tread depth of at least 1mm
  • The tyres are inflated correctly
  • There are no deep cuts in the tyre’s sidewall
  • There is no cord visible anywhere on the tyre
  • All wheel nuts are tight enough (you can check if the wheel nit indicators have moved to do this)
  • There are no objects or debris trapped between the twin wheels


Brake lines and trailer parking brake: Braking is a pretty essential function on any vehicle, so these checks are one of the more important. Make sure that your couplings are free of debris and are positioned correctly, with no leaks, damage or wear. Check that the parking brake for the trailer works as well. Once you’ve done a visual check, turn the engine on and leave it running so that some pressure can build up. This will make it easier to hear any leaks as you carry our the rest of the walkaround checks.

Electrical connections: Check each electrical connection and make sure that any visible wiring is properly insulated, is not likely to get caught or damaged, and any trailer couplings are connected securely. You will also need to check that all electrical switches on the vehicle work correctly.

Coupling security: If you want to deliver your load, you need to make sure that your trailer is connected to your cab properly, which means your couplings need checking. Make sure your vehicle is securely attached to your trailer, and that the trailer is located correctly in the fifth wheel or coupling, and that the secondary locking devices are in the right position.

Security of load: Once your HGV is loaded, make sure that it’s not likely to move during transit. This means ensuring your using the right type of load securing system for the load. If you’re not happy with how the load is secured or how stable it is, ask the person in charge of vehicle safety to get a competent person to assess it, and reload or re-secure it if necessary.

Number plate: Look at your number plate and make sure it’s present, clean and not obscured by anything. You’ll also need to check that it’s legal, with correct spacing and numbering/lettering.

Reflectors: Make sure that your reflectors are fitted, intact, secure, clean and the right colour.

Markings and warning plates: Each HGV is marked differently, so you will need to adjust your checks based on your individual vehicle. Make sure the markings (including compicuity markings) are the right colour, visible, securely fastened and not obscured by anything. If the vehicle is carrying hazardous goods, you will also need to make sure the vehicle shows the correct information for the load, that that information is visible, securely fastened and not obscured.


And don’t forget, there may be vehicle specific checks you need to carry out as well, so make sure you double check before you sign off the vehicle. We know this looks like a very long list, but once you get the hang of it it doesn’t take that long, and ensures the safety of you and other drivers on the road.


If you would like to know more, just get in touch with the team today.

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