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Van Advice Part 5 - vehicle checks

Driver walk round vehicle checks and defect reporting

Driver walk round vehicle checks and defect reporting for vans and light goods vehicles are essential if you want to stay mobile and safe, says the FTA

As a vehicle operator and driver you are responsible for the condition and roadworthiness of your vehicle, and by having an effective maintenance system in place this will ensure that your day to day operations are safe and legal.

You may have your own methods or policies on vehicle checks, but it is of paramount importance that vehicle checks are not done on an ad-hoc basis but on a daily basis, otherwise you run the risk of using a vehicle that is unsafe, illegal and this may lead to prosecution or to a potential catastrophic event.

Driver training

All drivers should be fully trained in carrying out vehicle checks and on how their company’s defect reporting system works.

Drivers should also receive written instructions (either specific or in a handbook) in relation to defect reporting procedures and should sign to say they have received and understood the information. All training, assessment and information received should be recorded and retained.

Walk around checks by drivers

The driver is in closest contact with the vehicle and is most likely to be the first to be aware of a fault that requires repairing Checks should be carried out by all drivers on taking over the use of any and every vehicle or trailer.

Particular care needs to be taken when there is a change to the type of vehicle or trailer operated, or where third party vehicles/trailers are to be used. Ensure that drivers have adequate facilities and light to carry out checks via the provision of torches or suitably illuminated areas on site that are preferably undercover.

The driver will need time allocated in their work schedule to be able to carry out the checks effectively and in light of different types of vehicles or combination being used at the time.

Defect reporting

There is no set format for a defect report sheet. A pre-carbonated duplicate book can be used by the driver but using this method is not as comprehensive or easy to audit as a pre-printed tick box type defect pad that has serial numbers so that its issue and use can be monitored.

All drivers should be issued with defect report pads. Defect report pads can either cover both the driver’s check and the defect rectification process, or organisations can use separate forms for each stage.

Defect sheets should contain elements that the driver must check as a minimum, along with any further relevant areas applicable to the vehicle or trailer that the driver intends on using.

Examples of what the driver should check are shown in the box and are listed in order of priority.

Drivers should confirm a check has been carried out before vehicle leaves the depot by either handing in completed and signed copy report forms, or alternatively by using telematics/onboard communication systems as confirmation.

Post-duty or end-of-shift checks should also be carried out by drivers. If a defect is then found at the next shift, the previous driver should be interviewed to explain the discrepancy. The post-duty sheet should also ask the driver to confirm:

  • if the driver/vehicle has been stopped at a roadside enforcement check
  • if the driver/vehicle has been involved in an accident or incident

For the full briefing note on vehicle checks please visit FTA’s Van Excellence site at www.vanexcellence.co.uk/briefing_note_download.html


Defect sheets should contain all elements that are applicable to the vehicle or trailer that the driver intends on using.

Minimum requirements of Guide to Maintaining Roadworthiness

Fuel/oil leaks

Battery security (condition)

Tyres and wheel fixing

Mud flaps


Security of load








Excessive engine exhaust smoke

Brake lines (combinations)

Coupling security (combinations)

Electrical connections (combinations)


Security of body/wings



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