Just like taking out the recycling, walking the dog on a rainy day and mowing the lawn, the walkaround safety check can feel like a chore. Life would be so much easier if our drivers could simply jump into their van, turn on the radio and start the day. But instead they must find the clipboard and a pen that works, then fill out yet another form, remembering to hand it in to the office where it will be checked – sometime – and then filed away. Gathering dust, in a folder. Third drawer down. There – right at the back. Sounding familiar?
We know that these checks are important. They highlight problems, improve road worthiness, encourage safety. But are you confident that they are carried out, 100% of the time, with a robust follow-up procedure? Or are you frustrated at the sheer amount of time it all takes?
These are real world problems. In a recent interview with a company director running a fleet of forty vans, we asked how the company approached vehicle safety checks. His response: “I think the drivers do them, but I honestly have no idea how or when.”
We know from experience that this isn’t an uncommon scenario. What some company owners and directors are failing to recognise though is that if a vehicle is involved in a serious accident and the vehicle is found to have a defect, THEY will be held responsible, not the driver who may – or may not – have checked the vehicle in the first place.
So let’s address this. There are two fundamental issues here: the check itself, and the follow up.
To start with, we need to remove the time consuming, inaccurate and inflexible paper trail. How? With a mobile app of course. Hardly ‘latest news’ – walkaround apps have been on the market for some time, with more emerging all the time. So how do you find the best fit for your fleet?
Some apps simply generate e-mailed versions of the checks which can then be downloaded and printed, which arguably could prove adequate for a very small fleet. Other solutions link to a website enabling the user to access the reports online, but in essence these are still just one step away from filing cabinet, paper and pen.
As for recording and managing the information generated by the check process, here we have another can of worms. Many companies we talk to rely on whiteboards, others use diaries or spreadsheets. Some even favour the good old Post-It note. When you consider the importance of the information you’re recording, not to mention the severity of consequences should that information go astray, it’s not hard to see why this emotive but essential process really needs to be handled by an end to end solution, specifically designed for the job.
Imagine the peace of mind you would enjoy if you had an app that would automatically give you an alert if a check has not taken place, as well as a simple way of communicating reminders to the drivers involved? And then a full audit trail of actions taken? What if that same app could deliver additional benefits such as a time stamp, location and number plate recognition to make sure the check hasn’t been carried out from the driver’s sofa?
Imagine no longer. This technology is available today, ready to ease the burden of ‘yet another chore’, and give you and your company confidence that you are not only managing a robust system of vehicle checks, but that you are proactively dealing with whatever the checks happen to uncover. And that’s how smart fleet managers can enjoy a good night’s sleep.