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Why Vehicle Maintenance Can’t Be Overlooked (And How To Stay On Top Of It)

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Speed and fatigue are two of the biggest concerns for transport operators and their compliance managers. Most of your time is spent enforcing safer behaviour and strict regulatory requirements. Compliance isn’t just about the driver on the road, however.  A key part of the National Heavy Vehicle Accreditation Scheme (NHVAS) is keeping your vehicles well maintained and roadworthy.  Despite this, it’s often overlooked as a secondary concern.

The recent National Roadworthiness Baseline Survey (NRBS) examined the mechanical condition of heavy vehicles in Australia. It identified high fail rates in several areas, including brakes, lights and reflectors, steering and engines. Research also shows that one in seven heavy trucks involved in a single vehicle crash have an equipment failure, and Owen Driscoll, manager of truck accident research at insurer NTI, recently identified the increasing prevalence of tyre failure as a serious risk facing the transport sector.

An unexpected vehicle fault can be catastrophic. It puts drivers and pedestrians in danger and places your business at risk of receiving heavy fines, or your fleet being grounded. For example, 46 people were treated for injuries and the truck operator was issued with an infringement notice for using an unsafe vehicle following a recent collision between a truck and tram in Victoria.

Keeping your vehicles well-maintained doesn’t have to be a difficult task. How? Here are a few easy ways to stay on top of it and keep your drivers, and your business, out of danger.

Safety Checklists

A pre-defined checklist of vehicle safety requirements allows drivers to check off that they and the vehicle are ready for the road before each journey, helping everyone to meet their Chain of Responsibility obligations. A preliminary inspection of things such as brakes, lights and suspension can help avoid a serious incident. Send the completed checklist to your back-office staff so they can minimise disruption caused by repairs. An electronic checklist also saves time and paperwork, making it easier to check historical records of vehicle roadworthiness.

Preventative Maintenance

Being proactive when it comes to maintenance will save you from trouble later. Don’t wait until a truck has reached breaking point or a collision has already occurred to fix failed equipment. The NBRS found that the older the vehicle is, the more likely it is to contravene safety standards or have a severe deterioration. Schedule regular inspections to make sure all your trucks are in top condition. Fixing small issues instead of waiting until they become bigger, more expensive problems will also keep costs down. With a GPS tracking system installed across your fleet, you can set up automatic alerts to let you know when a vehicle is due for a service.

Accurate Documentation

NHVAS regulations require operators to track the roadworthiness of all vehicles, but it’s up to you to decide how. Staying on top of it manually can be a pain, especially when you’re reliant on drivers to maintain accurate records, or you have hundreds or even thousands of vehicles to keep track of. Electronic fleet management systems and compliance solutions will capture data in real-time and keep a record of your maintenance schedule so you can easily check a truck’s last service at a moment’s notice. When preparing for an audit, you can pull the records you need at the click of the button and be confident that the information is accurate and up-to-date.  

Vehicle maintenance isn’t just about keeping your vehicles looking new and shiny. A poorly maintained truck can be a matter of life and death, jeopardising the safety of your drivers and everyone else sharing the roads. It can put strain on your business and poses a risk of hefty fines or infringement notices. Staying on top of issues and completing preventative maintenance measures will save you a whole lot of time, money and unnecessary hassle down the road.

 


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