Safety First – Your Pre-Drive Checks (Part 1)

Posted on 15th September 2020 By Charlotte Haye

As a professional HGV driver, you have a lot of responsibilities on your shoulders. To get your goods to their destination on time, and in one piece, or loading and unloading your vehicle, for example. But the most important thing you need to do as a HGV driver is make sure that you, and everyone on the road around you, is safe. To make sure you do this, the government have put in place a set of checks you must do every day before you drive your vehicle anywhere. These tasks might start out like a long list, but they very quickly become just another part of the routine – something you get used to doing before you start your journey. This checklist is split into 2 parts, and today we’re going to be covering part 1 with you – the interior vehicle safety checks.


Inside Your HGV

You’ll be glad to know that a lot of these checks can be done from the drivers seat of your HGV, and don’t take a lot of time to go over either. Some of them might be completely second nature to you already if you drive a car, but others you might need to learn. There are 9 sections to cover, to ensure everything is operational and safe:


Mirrors and glass: There is a lot of glass and multiple mirrors on your HGV, and you need to check that it’s all present, undamaged and not dirty. This is to ensure you have a good view in each one. This includes your windscreen (which shouldn’t be cracked or scratched), and your mirrors should be clean, free of cracks and with a clear view. If your HGV has a camera system instead of mirrors, then you should check these are all working properly and pointing in the right directions.

Windscreen wipers and washers: Give your wipers a run to make sure they work, and aren’t damaged (or missing, as can sometimes happen). Check your washer fluid and make sure you have enough for your days run, and top it up if it’s low.

Front view: Make sure there is nothing blocking or obscuring your view our of the windscreen. As a rule, there should be nothing in the swept area of the windscreen, or on the lower parts of the dashboard. With the exception of some official road safety stickers, of course.

Dashboard warning lights and gauges: Turn on your engine and make sure all the lights on the dashboard are working. Then look again and make sure that your vehicle isn’t displaying any warning lights past that initial start-up flash.

Steering: Sit in the driver’s seat and move the steering wheel. Check that it moves properly, with no excessive play, working power steering, and that the wheel doesn’t jam or stick.

Horn: Still in the driver’s seat, press your horn. If it makes the right noise (and you can reach it properly), then it passes the check.

Brakes and air build up: Check and test your brakes. You should be looking to make sure that:

  • The air builds up correctly
  • The warning system works
  • There are no air leaks
  • The footwell is clear
  • The service brake operates both the tractor and the trailer brakes effectively
  • The parking brake for the trailer is operational
  • The service brake pedal doesn’t have any excessive side play or missing, lose or incomplete anti-slip tread.

Height Marker: HGVs are heavy and tall – that’s sort of the definition. Which means you as a driver need to know exactly how tall your vehicle is so that you don’t end up getting stuck under a bridge, or damaging the vehicle on a barrier. The height of the vehicle will change depending on a lot of things, including if it’s loaded or if the fifth wheel has been adjusted. So before you set off, check the height and make sure it’s correct on the vehicle height marker displayed in the cab.

Seatbelts: One of the most essential pieces of safety equipment, you need to make sure your seatbelts are present and not damaged. No nicks, cuts or frays. They should also stay secure when you plug them in, and retract against you when fitted, and retract fully when taken off as well.


Don’t worry – it’s not as scary as it looks! And if you think you might need some help remembering it all, you can download this check sheet from the DVLA to help you. And that’s it for Part 1 – stay tuned for Part 2, which will cover the outside vehicle safety checks.

At The Surrey & Hampshire HGV Training Centre, we pride ourselves on teaching you absolutely everything you need to know about HGV driving – not just the physical driving part. Our experienced trainers will be on hand to help teach you the ins and outs of your job as a HGV driver, and answer any of your questions as you go. If you would like to find out more, just get in touch with us today.

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