Before you set off on a new journey, you must make sure that your vehicle is as sound as possible. The pre-departure check of the truck is planned for this purpose. This takes some time, usually about a quarter of an hour. It is important that you remember to insert your driver card into the reader before starting the check, because the check is part of your working time. If you are stopped and checked at some point in time, the officers will become suspicious if your working time starts immediately with your driving time. Didn’t you carry out a pre-departure check, then? So, first insert the card, then carry out the check. You work from the front to the back. You start by standing in front of the truck.
Check the truck lighting
Do the lights on your vehicle work? And every one? Make sure that the normal headlights are as sharp as the low beam, high beam and fog lamps, indicators and hazard warning lights. Also the clearance lights and the number plate light should be working.
When you are finished with the front of the truck, also check the reflectors and clearance lights on the side of the trailer. Finally, stand behind the trailer and check the number plate lights as well as the reflectors, tail lights, brake lights and rear fog lights.
Ensure good visibility
You should check the front and rear number plates for cleanliness and clean them if necessary – they must be clearly legible at all times. At the back you should also take a close look at the badges for the main inspection and the safety inspection. They must also be clean enough to be legible at all times and, above all, they must still be valid. If you have exceeded the deadline for the safety inspection, you must pay a fine of 15 to 75 euros if you are caught – depending on how long ago the last check was. If you have exceeded the deadline by four months or more, you will have a point added to your licence.
At the front of the truck, inspect the rear-view mirrors and windscreen. Both should be clean so that they ensure good visibility. Finally, check the windscreen washer system – if you find that it doesn’t work when you need it, it can be dangerous.
Check the truck’s engine
It is imperative that you open the engine compartment and check both the oil level and the level of coolant and brake fluid. All three must be sufficiently topped up. If you notice a drop in oil level, which you cannot explain with the distance driven, the truck should be in the workshop and not on the road.
Check the tyres
Only if the tyres are okay all round, should you venture out onto the road.
- Do the tyres still have sufficient tread depth?
- Do they have enough air in them? Can you spot any minor damage to them that you didn’t notice while driving?
- And what condition are the rims in?
Check the external equipment
Again, it is important to check carefully:
- Is the fifth-wheel coupling firm and secure?
- What about the air filters?
- Is the tank tight?
- Do the connections work properly and is the battery fully charged and operational?
- Is the tarpaulin taut and do the buckles and fasteners close seamlessly?
Check the load securing
Check that the load is properly secured. Have you used enough lashing straps or chains, placed anti-slip mats underneath and properly secured containers, swap bodies and other receptacles? Securing the load also serves your own safety, so make sure you do it thoroughly.
Do you have spare parts and accessories in your truck?
Check the spare wheels:
- Are they ready for use and properly secured?
- Do you have your safety vest and a flashlight on board? In winter do you also have frost protection for the windows, the headlights and the coolant?
Also de-icing spray and ice scrapers should be on board in the cold months, as well as snow chains. If you need them:
- Are the dangerous goods signs in place?
- Do you have a blanket on board in case you break down at low temperatures and the heating fails?
In the cab of the truck: Mirror, controls and seat
Finally, you arrive at the driver’s cab during the pre-departure check of the truck. Here you carefully adjust the rear-view mirrors and check whether all the controls are working.
- Does the steering wheel have the usual play?
- Can the pedals be operated as usual?
- Are all indicator and warning lights working, is the heating OK?
- Is the pressure gauge working?
Adjust the seat exactly so that you can be comfortable and as relaxed as possible behind the steering wheel. Take a look at the fuel level and briefly press the signal horn.
Test the truck brakes
One of the most important checks takes place shortly before departure: the testing of the brakes! If you only notice on the road that they are not working as they should, it can become very dangerous: Even the quickest reaction on your part does not help if the vehicle does not come to a standstill when it should.
Is the tachograph okay?
Is the warning light on the tachograph illuminated? Do you have all the spare rolls or record sheets you might need with you? It is also important that you have the activity records for the last 28 calendar days with you.
You need these papers
Last but not least, check your paperwork. Do you have your driving licence, vehicle documentation and freight documents with you? If you are transporting dangerous goods, you also need the dangerous goods documents, and you should always have the accident procedures sheets ready to hand.
Summary: The pre-departure check of the truck is performed in full
Before embarking on a long journey by truck, you need to make sure that you are as safe as possible in every way. You not only inspect the exterior of the truck and all its functions, but also make sure that the load is carefully secured and that you have all the necessary accessories and documents with you. The tachograph must also be working. Pre-departure check for the truck may seem time-consuming and unnecessary, but it can save your life – so you should always do it with great care.