Winter Driving Checks – Part 1

Part of Driver CPC, we like to spend just a little more time going over, for most is regular routine walk-round check, however you wouldn’t believe how many of us still get it wrong, and more importantly disciplinary action at work, or even loss of life could result, overlooking important areas in our checks, and remember we should as regular practice, do these checks on our own private vehicles, even your bike, if you bike to work.

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Driver walk around checks and defect reporting

At work, driver walk around checks and default reporting to identify and share good practices over and above these minimum standards. Lets go beyond the minimum standards, and look at ways to help us achieve our goals, and remember, through driver cpc courses, we are able to use practical techniques to ensuring you are achieving beyond the minimum standards, only to be expected at professional advanced drivers.

Driver Training

All drivers should be fully trained in carrying out vehicle checks and how your defect reporting system works. This may have been done as an induction, prior to joining a new company, part of your Driver CPC periodic training, however you should be familiar with your company policies, regarding Driver walk around checks and defect reporting.

Checks should be carried out by all drivers on taking over the use of any and every vehicle or trailer. Particular care to be taken when there is a change to the type of vehicle or trailer operated or where third party vehicle/trailers are to be used.

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Carry a torch with you, can you been seen easier on these cold, dark morning shifts? Non-slip shoes for icy or puddles! Ticking off a list with cold hands, rain, snow or even wind, are their any alternative wears of ticking off your checklist? Click board, with clear cover, work this out now. Some companies may have checklist on PDAs or even as mobile phone app, but are they weather proof for our climate?

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Are there more chance of being hit in the head, or unable to see overhanging objects, do require further PPE, Hardhat, protective eyewear, remember we go beyond minimum, we are professional advanced drivers!

Motorists are more likely to break down in winter than any other time of year. There’s also a greater probability of delays on the roads.

No matter what vehicle you are in or how good a driver you are, if there is a big accident on the roads you could face several hours sitting still whilst the road is cleared. And winter is a time when you don’t want to be sat still in your vehicle without being prepared for the cold.

We’ve given you the tips to reduce the risk of a breakdown, but in case you do get stuck, here’s our checklist of things to keep in your vehicle and things to do to be prepared for the cold weather.

  • Sat-nav and map book of area you will be travelling
  • A snow shovel
  • Windscreen scraper
  • Torch (and extra batteries)
  • Water
  • Snack/food
  • Extra hats, socks and gloves
  • Good sturdy footwear
  • First Aid kit
  • Necessary medications
  • Blanket or sleeping bag
  • Mobile phone in-car charger
  • Flask of Coffee/Tea or even just hot water

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All this extra preparations, do you need a little more time to do this?

Extra Equipment

Remember – ice scrapers and de-icer are of no use, if they are in vehicle, and you can’t get into the vehicle. Ladders of safe equipment to allow you reach your windscreen, lights, etc to clear them of ice.

Not you are ready to tackle any weather lets check our vehicles!

Are we able to get into the vehicle, locks frozen?

2017.30.jpg1. Apply pressure by leaning on your frozen door. Push as hard as you can against the door. The pressure could break the ice around the door’s seal, enabling you to open the door.

(I) Chip away the ice. If the ice has formed a thick crust, break it off with the seal of the door on all sides, and off the handle if necessary. If you don’t have an ice-scraper, use any stiff plastic object, such as a spatula or credit card. Metal objects may scratch the glass or paint.

2. Pour lukewarm water over the rubber seals. Fill a cup, bucket or another container with lukewarm water. Pour the water around the seal of the door to thaw the ice. You may need to repeat this several times if the ice is thick. Once the door is open, dry off the inside of the seal with a towel to prevent re-freezing.

  • Never use hot water, or the temperature difference could shatter your window glass. Vehicle doors most often freeze where the rubber seal is worn or damaged, allowing water to seep in and freeze.

3. Spray lubricant on the key of lock. This works best if you spay the kay, or place the straw of the lubricant against the lock and spray through the straw. Do not combine multiple lubricants.

Inside your vehicle

Do I start the vehicle, wedge down the accelerator to warm up my vehicle quicker, then continue my walk around checks?

Cold weather makes the engine hard to start for two main reasons. First, old thickens when it’s cold, which increases friction and makes it harder for the motor to spin the engine. Cold also slows the chemical reaction in the battery, reducing its power output. However, you can ensure that your vehicle will start in the worst weather by keeping the engine or battery, or both warm, keeping them in the garage for one, or just plain old good maintenance, ensuring the batteries aren’t old and kept well charged . Oil is of a good quality and renewed as per your vehicle maintenance schedule. As we already know with our general walk-around checks, we should regular check that the batteries terminals are clean and securely fastened to prevent resistance, and check the wires aren’t worn or damaged.

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Idling your vehicle, during the winter

Idling is not actually an effective way of warming up your vehicle, plus you waste money running the engine, it can kill you exposing you and others to carbon monoxide and other noxious gases.

However, we do need to check that the vehicle starts, and most vehicles will have a internal vehicle checks, and we should ensure no warning lights stay lit on the dashboard, at the same time check your demisters, and that the wipers work.

Some vehicle may require extra time for air-pressure equipment to build, which may take longer on cold days. Switch on your exterior lights, do you indicators, headlights, sidelights, marker lights, reversing lights, number plate lights, brake lights, and even your fog lights, work? Is there somebody else could help us, and give us the thumbs up that they do work, can we even see them, if they are frosted up, get out and clean the lenses, at the same time clean your mirrors, and yes the number plate, it’s your legal responsibility to do.

Lets a quick look inside

  • Have you put in your tachograph card, set your equipment, is it working, correct time, correct mode, tachograph calibration certificate in date? Do you have a spare print roll, and at the same time ensure you have your charts/records of the previous 28 days, along with the driver qualification card, and other company paperwork that are you required to carry.
  • Vehicle has the Operators licence disk, Seats correctly positioned, mirrors in correct position, and no fallen objects in cab, including dashboard.
  • Are there any low air warning buzzers or lights, Gauges and dials working, no warnings, ABS systems functioning, Telematics and in-cab communications working, and other warning devices, such as handbrake, fifth wheel sensors, landing legs, etc.

Start our top to bottom exterior checks

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Marker lights working and can be seen

No other obvious damage, vandalism, marks, that we haven’t seen before

Windscreen – Demisting your windscreen is a necessity before setting off, not doing so can impede your vision while driving which means you will be driving illegally.

The cause of your vehicle windscreen misting up is isn’t directly because of the cold air, but actually down to water vapour in the atmosphere that occurs when your body heats the air inside the cabin – as does your breath – increasing the amount of moisture it can hold.

Use the heater- Start the heater off cold, then slowly increase the temperature as the air dries out, rather than overloading the cabin with hot, ‘wet’ air.

Try to find a temperature and humidity that’s comfortable, but doesn’t mist up the cabin.

Make sure your heater’s blast is directed at the windscreen and the windows – the warmer air will dry the glass a little through evaporation and begin to heat up the glass to stop the water vapour condensing on it again.

REMEMBER: It’s illegal to drive with snow on your vehicle, allow extra time

Use the air-con

If you vehicle has air conditioning make sure it is switched on.

Use the air-con in conjunction with the heater, Hot air will dry the glass a little through evaporation, but the air will then cool down and condense on the glass once more, so make sure the air-con is on to keep the atmosphere inside dry.

If you’re windscreen is iced over, then the heat is obviously more necessary. But in this instance you might want to scrape the outside of your windscreen clear first. Remember you may need access to steps, or safe equipment to allow you reach the windscreen safely, if you need to scrape your windscreen.

Keep a bottle of anti-freeze with you, be aware of the risks, first aid should you accidently not be able to see where the chemical squirts out, some anti-freeze requires you to wear hand protection or eye protection, lets check your anti-free now!

What every you do, don’t go for the kettle option. Pouring a kettle of boiling hot water over the windows in attempt to melt any ice, will cause a thermal shock, crack your windows, and also burn yourself.

Now the windscreen is clear, you still need to do your regular windscreen checks for chips, cracks, and even dirt or smears. Check your windscreen wipers do they work, are they frozen, are the rubbers not able to clear your windscreen. Are the washers frozen, check the screen washer levels and at the same time check the Oil, Coolant, and any additional equipment you may carry.

2017-37Are the lights on the vehicle clear, and their any signs of damage, bodywork damage, bumps or scrapes that your haven’t seem before, get them reported, you don’t want to get the blame.

 

Now carry on walking around the vehicle and check:

Any Fuel/Oil leaks on the ground

Battery Security, has anyone interfered, or bad connections, wiring, etc

Tyres and Wheel Fixings – Tyre dept, no less than 1mm, and remember tyres don’t wear evenly, move your vehicle so, you can see other parts of the tyre, wheel nuts secure, and tight.

Spray suppression

Steering, smooth

Security of load

Reflectors clear, once again, even in winter they have to be clear and easily seen

Excessive engine exhaust smoke, I know this is difficult in Winter, but have a look, and of course monitor during your working day

Brake lines

Coupling security

Electrical connections

Brakes

Fuel cap – remember fuel theft is particular high during long dark evenings.

Vehicle/trailer exterior clean

Underrun bars

Sideguards

Steps and catwalk

Condition of load securing equipment

Load weight and distribution

Who the defect was reported to and when

also check

Urea Level

Accident pack – forms

Tail lift

Crane

Over height warning buzzer

tipping gear

Refrigeration Equipment

On-board weighing equipment

Curtains

Night heater

In-cab communications

Reversing aid

Shutters

Moveable bulkhead

Twist locks

Damage

Defect Reporting

All drivers should be issued with defect report pads.

Drivers should always complete, sign and date that no defects are found, or sometimes know as ‘nil defects’. These forms will satisfy enforcement officers that the vehicle was roadworthy when it left the depot.

When defects have been found, should be reported, and acted upon. When defects have been reported from the previous shift, then repairs carried out should be signed off.

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