What do you think if you hear the sound of a truck’s horn?
Possibly that the driver is feeling particularly happy and putting the ‘honk if you’re happy’ slogan into practice? Maybe that the driver is angry at another road user swerving between lanes. Or, you might just put it down to a driver carrying out a safety check of their vehicle.
A short blast on the horn is one part of the safety checks carried out on HGVs. Some fleet operators even quip that the frequency of horns sounding indicates whether drivers are doing their daily checks or not.
Sometimes, these checks can get overlooked. In June this year, the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance conducted a 72-hour safety blitz throughout the US, Canada and Mexico. The three-day event, known as Roadcheck, revealed a range of violations ranging from too little air in tyres and overweight trucks to securement violations.
With this in mind, here’s a run through of what a truck safety check should involve
- Visibility: Check windows and mirrors are clean and unobstructed and that reversing cameras are in good working order. Next on the list is making sure windscreen wipers, washers and demisters are good to go.
- Driving controls: This includes the seat, the horn, and all your dashboard controls. Calibrate your tachograph with the correct hours and ensure the speed-limiter plaque is displayed. Finally, make sure your warning devices are operating correctly.
- Stability: It sounds a bit obvious, but you need to make sure that the vehicle is upright and not leaning to one side. If it’s not, who knows what might happen. Then, look at access points such as steps and catwalk to check they are stable and that the drawbar is sturdy.
- Bodywork and cargo elements: You want to make sure that nothing on the bodywork is liable to crumple, bend or fall away. Curtains, straps and tail lift all need to be intact and fit for purpose.
- Wheels, traction, steering and brakes: Inspect wheels and tyres (including the fifth wheel) and check landing legs and handle are in correct position. Steering, brakes and air suspension should also be checked.
- Lights: Lights and reflectors should be clean and clearly visible.
- Exhaust: Check for excessive noise and smoke which could signal a problem.
Over time, drivers become increasingly adept at carrying out these checks efficiently. What else would you add to the checklist?