How important is regular maintenance?
Government urges commercial operators to carry out regular maintenance.
Any commercial fleet company understands the necessity of optimal safety for their drivers. Most commercial operators are equally aware of the associated dangers of spending long periods of time on the road.
Data shows that there is still vast room for improvement as avoidable prohibitions and accidents still occur on a daily basis. These can vary from minor faults to more serious incidents such as wheel loss.
The DVSA recently released a paper that aimed to serve as a reminder to commercial operators to ‘prioritise vital vehicle maintenance and ensure their vehicles are roadworthy all year round’.
The government insight reported a drastic increase in prohibitions issued three-months following an MOT test, compared to the first month after an MOT, up to 25% more in this case. These results would indicate that many fleet vehicles are not adequately maintained after their test.
The government data also showed 60% of HGV prohibition defects found three-months post-MOT could have been easily reported and corrected prior to a journey or should have been noticed when driving the vehicle.
Such lax arrangements can be the cause of driving fatalities and can be easily avoided. The solution lies in ensuring that vehicles are roadworthy, and frequently maintained.
It is important to establish that there is no one person necessary for vehicle maintenance; both operators and drivers are fully responsible for ensuring that vehicles are roadworthy before leaving base. In fact, it is an offence to drive an unroadworthy vehicle so pre-journey checks should always form part of your drivers’ daily routine.
There are numerous factors that can contribute to prohibitions, including poor training for drivers and transport managers, lack of vehicle breakdown support, drivers being pressurised into driving unroadworthy vehicles, and under-par services from third party maintenance providers.
Another key issue involves maintenance checks. These should be performed regularly and efficiently with adequate walk-around checks, thorough wheel examinations, sophisticated defect reporting systems, and an appropriate assessment of defects. Drivers should also have full access to repair facilities in-between safety inspections.
Much of this can be easily overcome with thorough pre-journey checks. It is during this time that operators are legally responsible for ensuring that vehicles are efficient and in a roadworthy condition. Equally, drivers should be provided sufficient time to undertake in-depth, pre-journey checks.
As soon as a default is spotted, a thorough assessment should be taken immediately to determine its severity. While the government takes a fairly pragmatic view concerning less serious defects that have occurred during the current day’s journey, it is still vital for them to be reported as not dangerous.
Drivers should always report dash faults and/or warnings, regardless of how dangerous they deem them to be. Physical faults can often be disregarded as minor, yet evolve with serious repercussions. Damaged indicators, broken mandatory mirrors, headlights that aren’t working, no brake lights, and a tyre cut to its cord can often seem minor, with many drivers and operators waiting until they return to base.
If an indicator cannot be seen, a vehicle becomes immediately dangerous. Moreover, should the vehicle be pulled over at the roadside, it will receive an immediate prohibition. This is time-wasting, expensive, and inefficient for all involved. And, most importantly, avoidable!
In some cases, it is acceptable for a fault to be corrected at the end of a journey. You can find more information about this in the categorisation of defaults manual.
In order for this overall structure to be successful, it is vital that drivers are adequately trained to identify defects and report them as soon as possible. The individual that is responsible for assessing faults should be highly competent in the task at hand and possess the necessary authority to remove a vehicle from service. Additionally, operators require proficient systems in place to manage defects, and act to repair or recover the vehicle both rapidly and efficiently.
Commercial fleets can equally reduce risk by purchasing wheel safety and styling products from a reputable seller. Nut locking devices such as ProLock are an essential tool to ensure that your wheel nut torque remains accurate, and your entire fleet are at significantly less risk on the road.
More serious problems, including wheel loss can also be combatted. Parma Group supply a wide range of industry leading wheel safety products, including Zafety, ProPoint and ProLock, amongst others, providing fleet vehicles with a higher level of security and minimising the risk of accidents due to loosened wheel nuts.
Vehicle maintenance needs to be a leading priority and should be actively supported from third party maintenance providers, operators and drivers combined. Prioritise the safety of your vehicle with regular maintenance checks, and you’ll keep yourself and others safe.
You can access the full government article on managing in service defects HERE.
If you’d like peace of mind about vehicle safety, please get in touch with someone at Parma and we’ll be happy to help.