Trailer daily checks: why are they so important?

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Updated 06/02/2023

If you drive a large HGV with a trailer attached, it is highly important that you pay as much attention to the trailer as you do to the cab. HGV’s often travel long distances with heavy cargo, so each driver needs to ensure that the trailer is safe and secure to avoid accidents on the journey. The DVSA requires daily checks to be performed to ensure there are no defects in the HGV’s tractor unit, but this rule also applies to trailers if there is one attached.

In this guide, we will explore the importance of daily trailer checks, as well as the various elements that should be checked and how they can be carried out. We will also explore whether or not daily checks of trailers are a legal requirement, and what can happen if your trailer fails its daily checks.

What should be checked as part of a daily trailer check?

When carrying out your daily checks, it is important to be aware of what needs to be examined during a trailer inspection. Both the inside and outside of the trailer needs checking thoroughly in order to rule out any major defects that may hinder the safety of the driver and other road users. Interior checks of a trailer include:

  • Condition of the curtain and curtain straps: if your trailer has a curtain, you need to ensure that it is safely and securely attached to the trailer at all times. This means that the straps should not be excessively worn or ripped, and the curtain must also be in good condition

  • Load straps: heavy loads within the trailer must be tightly secured with dependable straps that have not been exceedingly worn or torn.

  • Doors, hinges and locks

  • Load: you must not load the trailer over its maximum capacity

  • Slats and boards

Exterior checks during your trailer inspection include:

  • Tyres and wheel nuts

  • Brakes

  • Licence plate: this must be clearly visible and attached correctly

  • Lights and reflectors

  • Air leaks

  • Body condition and damage

  • Mud wings and stays

The driver must also check that they are fit to drive themselves, and all major defects must be reported to the relevant person within your company. To find out more about each individual daily check you should carry out on your trailer, get in touch with our team to discuss a free demo of our digital checklists.

Large Semi-trailer with open doors

How do I check my trailer for defects?

Before setting off on your journey, you should check your HGV trailer for any defects that could pose a safety hazard. As well as checking your HGV cab, you need to also thoroughly inspect your trailer; each driver should carry out these checks, even if both the cab and the trailer have already been checked by a previous driver that day.

You should ensure that you carry out a full scope of the inside and outside of the trailer with a checklist, marking off each item that has been checked and noting where you notice a defect. If you spot a major hazard, you should not drive with the trailer attached until the defect has been reported and fixed. Traditionally, checks were carried out with a paper checklist; AssetGo’s digital checklist makes it easier to carry out your daily walkaround checks, and can store all data securely for easier access to past checks.

You can request a free demo on our website here.

Are daily trailer checks a legal requirement?

Yes, daily walkaround checks of HGV trailers are legally required by the DVSA. If a driver is pulled over during a DVSA roadside check, they will be liable for any defects or checks not carried out. The DVSA has the right to impose fines or licence points if they deem the vehicle unsafe to drive, or they find that the driver has not carried out the appropriate daily checks. The DVSA will issue fines and even points if the defective vehicle is involved in an accident.

It is also advised that daily walkaround checklists are kept for 15 months.

How often should daily trailer checks be performed?

Trailer checks should be performed every day before the HGV sets off on its journey. If the HGV is driven by two separate drivers on the same day, then the second driver should also perform their own checks. Checklists must be kept safe and secure in case you are pulled over for a DVSA roadside check.

Paper checklists can easily become lost or damaged. Digital checklists like the ones created on the AssetGo app can allow fleet managers and drivers alike to easily access their checklists and records, saving time and making processes much easier.

Semi truck on a motorway

What happens if my trailer fails its daily vehicle checks?

If you notice any major defects during your daily walkaround checks, you should report it immediately to the relevant person within your company and you must not drive your HGV with the trailer attached. The vehicle should be recovered and taken for repairs if the defects cannot be resolved on the spot. The trailer must be kept off of the road until the defect is remedied.

For instance, if your trailer fails to couple properly to the cab, or the doors of the trailer do not shut, you must report the defect immediately and refrain from driving until the matter is resolved.

How AssetGo can help

Our fully comprehensive fleet management system at AssetGo can help you create trailer checklists tailored to your commercial vehicle fleet, with all data stored safely and securely after each safety inspection. You can also carry out thorough licence checking, arrange regular maintenance and book repairs through our easy-to-use app, keeping your fleet and your drivers fully compliant. To find out more, or to request a free demo, please get in touch via our website today.

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