At FleetCheck, we often hear from fleets that the standard one-sheet safety checks carried out by dealers when servicing cars and vans need to provide more useful information.

We agree. The fact is that the current checks, which tend to use traffic light or estimated percentage wear indicators for items such as tyre and brake pad wear, are of limited practical use.

What is not well-known about these documents is that they actually have a legal significance. Health and Safety guidelines mean that any notification of a vehicle fault needs to be acknowledged and addressed by the fleet. However, the problem is that the information provided presents fleets with a Health and Safety issue but no solution.

Take brake pads, for example. The dealer may report to the customer that these are 70% worn but they give no indication to the fleet about when they are likely to actually need replacing. The truth is that it would be relatively simple for the dealer – with the backing of its franchise manufacturer or an independent expert body – to estimate the likely fail date or mileage based on their experience of the vehicles in question and, for the sake of safety, to use a worst case scenario when making their appraisal. Instead of just saying that the pads are 70% worn, they could state clearly that they are likely to need checking again or replacing in an estimated three months or 5,000 miles, for example.

This would be genuinely useful information for fleets and, of course, would be of advantage to the dealer, who is much more likely to capture the work that has been flagged up if there is a timescale indicated. This applies especially to jobs such as tyres and pads that many dealers tend to lose to fast-fits.

A further complication is that, in cases where vehicles were leased, the safety checks themselves were often passed to the leasing company rather than the fleet. This is an issue because, as explained, the safety check has a legal status. If it never actually reaches the fleet and there is a resulting accident that triggers an HSE investigation, then the audit trail of paperwork breaks down. It is an area that, we believe, needs addressing.