As a business owner, you are responsible for fleet safety while your vehicles are on the road. The best way to minimize safety risks for your drivers and ensure the health of your fleet is with a vehicle safety checklist.
Read on to learn why you need to perform daily vehicle inspections, the safety risks of neglecting checklist procedures, and to get an essential checklist of what your safety checks should include.
What is a company vehicle safety checklist?
A vehicle inspection checklist is a list of items to check on a fleet vehicle to ensure it is in good working condition and is properly maintained.
Company vehicle inspection checklists minimize the risk of accidents and allow for better safety documentation and accountability. The checklist should become a routine for every employee to perform before and after their shifts.
A business owner’s fleet maintenance responsibilities
As your business grows, it will not be sustainable for you to manage all your fleet vehicles on your own, as you will likely be acting as business owner and fleet manager. Enlist the help of your drivers by asking them to complete the vehicle inspection checklists for every vehicle they drive. This will keep fleet drivers safe and help you stay on top of preventative vehicle maintenance problems before small issues create more costly damage.
Ask drivers to perform daily vehicle checks at the start and end of every shift. This form of reporting also helps with compliance and coordinating fleet maintenance schedules.
What should be included in a vehicle inspection?
Performing vehicle inspections before the start of every shift should become standard fleet safety practice for your employees. There are several things to include in a routine vehicle inspection checklist.
External vehicle inspection checklist:
What items should you check as you approach your vehicle?
- Walk around: Report any dings, scratches, or other damage on the exterior of the vehicle. Check for rust and undercarriage damage.
- Check the lights: Check running lights, turn signals, interior lights, headlights, and taillights.
- Check windshield wipers: Wipe any debris from the windows to keep wiper blades clean.
- Inspect the tires: Are the tires full? Make sure they have good, visible treads.
- Check Mirrors: Broken mirrors can cause accidents. Check the integrity of all mirrors inside and outside of your vehicle.
Internal vehicle inspection checklist:
What items should you check inside the vehicle?
- Check fuel levels: Check and record the fuel level at the beginning of every shift. If it’s in your policy, record starting mileage too (or your telematics system may do this for you automatically).
- Check vehicle fluids: Ensure there is enough brake fluid, steering fluid, and antifreeze in vehicles.
- Test back-up cameras and beeps: If your vehicles have back-up cameras or beeps when backing up, check that they both work before leaving the lot.
- Check seat belts: Make sure all seat belts are in good working order.
- Check the brakes: Worn breaks can contribute to slower stopping distances and a higher chance of accidents. Make sure brakes are in good working order.
- Honk the horn: Check that the horn works as expected.
- Check specialized equipment: If your fleet vehicles have any specialized equipment on board (like refrigeration units or lift ramps), make sure they’re working before starting every shift.
When you hire new employees for your fleets, walk them through the vehicle inspection checklist until they are comfortable following every step. These checks will soon become second nature for them, and they’ll be able to perform vehicle inspections independently in no time.
Post-shift vehicle inspection checklist:
Follow similar procedures and checks at the end of each shift. Employees should check many of the same areas that were checked when their shift started.
In addition, they should check and record the following:
- Fuel Levels: If it’s your company policy, ensure that all vehicles have a full tank of fuel before returning them to the yard at the end of the day. This helps the night shift, or next day shift, get on the road faster.
- Mileage: If it’s your fleet policy, record the odometer at the end of the shift.
- Incidents from the shift: If your driver noticed anything unusual during their shift, like a flickering light, shuttering transmission, or they drove over something on the road, ask them to be forthright and include it on the report.
Ensuring compliance with vehicle inspection checks
After your drivers have submitted their daily inspection reports, verify any unusual information with telematics data gathered by your GPS fleet tracking system to see if the damage was an accident, caused by a 3rd party, or caused by your driver.
For example, if your driver reports smashed front lights, you can check the data to see if it recorded any abnormal driving habits or any times the vehicle was bumped or hit.
Use these details to plan for repairs and determine which components may need regular servicing or critical vehicle maintenance. In some cases, you can replace broken or missing parts before the next shift or take the vehicle off the road if the damage is more severe.
Enforcing a driver safety policy for your business
Aside from having a vehicle inspection checklist for every vehicle, a proper driver safety policy will further minimize your risk of vehicle damage or personal safety:
- Driver background check: Before you hire drivers for your fleet, ensure they have up-to-date driver’s licences and clean driving records. Depending on the type of fleet vehicles you have, consider testing their driving skills.
- Create an accident response process: Outline a series of steps and procedures for your drivers to follow in the event of an accident. Drivers need to know what information to gather from the accident and who to contact in case of an incident.
- Establish a vehicle maintenance program: Set aside a budget for driver safety education and a maintenance fund to deal with ongoing maintenance and repairs. Get reminders when you need to check things like windshield wipers, exhaust systems, and efficiency of any emergency equipment on board.
- Implement a fleet tracking system: The best way to track the condition of your vehicles and monitor your employees driving habits while on shift is by installing a fleet tracking system that connects using an OBDII port. These systems provide you with critical information about your vehicle (including engine oil levels, harsh braking and acceleration, speeding, idle times, and fuel efficiencies).
The human element of fleet safety
Aside from the mechanical and structural checks of fleet vehicles, there is a human element to your driver’s safety. Always require workers to wear a seatbelt when in a moving vehicle. In addition, here are some additional common human-related risks to discuss with your drivers as part of your driver safety policy:
Even a little alcohol or Cannabis (if it is legal in your state) is enough to impair judgment enough to cause an accident. Impose a zero-tolerance policy for fleet driver’s drinking and controlled substance use.
There is a lot to focus on when you’re behind the wheel. To minimize accidents, enforce rules and regulations of your local area, including not using cell phones or devices when on the road. If drivers need to check their GPS, require them to pull over and park the vehicle to check.
Closing your eyes for a second is all it takes to get into an accident. Consider the length of your drivers’ shifts and make sure they get adequate breaks to rest and get food throughout the day. A little scheduled downtime during longer shifts is essential.
Your drivers are representing your business when on the road. Weaving in and out of traffic, excessive honking, hard braking, and taking corners too fast are all risk factors. (Thankfully, these actions can be tracked by the use of “How’s my driving” signs on your trucks, or through a fleet tracking software like Force by Mojio).
Vehicle safety checklist
Vehicle performance is also a factor of driver’s safety. Ensure it’s well maintained by performing a safety inspection before and after every shift. It also helps document any damage to be dealt with promptly and helps you plan for any future repair work.
Fleet tracking with Force
With Force, you can check an individual’s Driver Score to manage driver performance and safety. Then, if you get reports of unsafe driving by one of your workers, you can check the software to see what happened and take the appropriate action.
Get your 60-day free trial of Force today and see how easy managing drivers in your fleet can be.