Countdown for Vehicle Safety

06.02.15   Mark A. Halloway, OHST | More by this Author

Countdown for Vehicle Safety

Astronauts do it! Aircraft pilots do it! Truck drivers who value their lives do it! Call it a countdown or check-off or safety checklist or whatever. The basic principle is the same. It is the principle of checking the various working parts of complex mechanical devices, such as automobiles and trucks, before the operator trusts his or her life to the machine.

A good time to make a safety check on trucks or cars is while the engine is warming up. Any order of checking will do, just so it makes sense to the operator. Just as important, the safety check should be done regularly, without fail, and it must be thorough. Here is a suggested basic vehicle safety check countdown:

  1. Circle the vehicle and check each wheel for wear, damage, or misalignment. Check tire pressure and tread thickness. Uneven wear of tread can mean misalignment of tires. Flat or soft tires can cause kneading and flexing of sidewalls and treads, which builds up heat that weakens tires. Check for tires that look underinflated or flat because of overloading. This can cause heat buildup in a tire, shorten its life, and even cause tire failure or blowout.

  2. Step up on the front bumper and bounce up and down to test front-end shock absorbers. Shocks are weak if the vehicle's bouncing does not stop when you stop. Malfunctioning shocks cause sluggish or erratic braking and loss of control.

  3. Check to see that all devices on the vehicle are working properly, such as head lights, turn signals, back-up lights, brake lights, horn, windshield wipers and washer, and other instruments.

  4. Put the vehicle in gear and go forward or backward a few feet, testing the brakes. Safe braking takes hold without noticeable delay and without the sound of metal on metal.

  5. Check all glass and mirrors for clear visibility. Especially look for dirt, grime, cracks, or breaks.

  6. Check any cargo for proper stacking and tie-down. Lashing needs to be strong enough and secured in such a way as to hold the load and keep it from shifting.

This is a partial checklist. Different drivers include other checks, depending upon the kind of vehicle, weight, and bulk of loads to be hauled, as well as on driving conditions and weather. The important thing is to practice the safety check before every trip. It helps monitor the vehicle’s future needs for maintenance and repair. The safety check countdown is no substitute for properly maintaining a vehicle but checking before the trip can give the operator an edge on making the trip a safe one.

TAGS: Safety

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