Defect Reporting & Systems

Failure to implement a procedure to undertake a daily walk round check (driver first use inspection) leaves you as the operator liable for any consequences that arise as a result of your driver(s) being stopped at a DVSA roadside check. Far more serious would be the situation where one of your vehicles was involved in a Road Traffic Accident or Incident where your vehicle was found to have a defect (or defects) that may have contributed to the resultant accident. In all situations, the defect does not necessarily have to be of a mechanical nature, it could equally be one of overloading/insecure load or as a result of defective tyres. 

In the DVSA 'Safe Operator Guide' (available to download below), it clearly states your obligation as an operator where defects are concerned, specifically that you must write a report of the fault and of the correction made and keep this report with the other documents relating to that vehicle. It is suggested you keep these records for at least 15 months. 

Any failings on your part to comply with those obligations you signed and agreed to when you were granted your Operators License may result in the possibility of you facing a Public Inquiry if those failings are persistent. 

Daily Walk Round Check 

A responsible person must undertake a daily walk around check before a vehicle is used. All drivers must carry out the check before they first drive the vehicle on the road each day, which also means every vehicle driven by each driver. Assistance may be required at some time during the inspection, for example, to see that all lights (especially brake lights) are working. Alternatively, a brake pedal application tool may be used as an effective way of making sure stop lamps are working and that the braking system is free of leaks. In addition, a torch, panel lock key or other equipment may be needed. 

Upon a driver completing a daily walk round check, if any defects are found, they should (where possible) be rectified before the vehicle is used on a public road. In instances where repairs can be made on the spot, these usually include such items as a bulb not working, broken rear lamp lens, a tyre requiring replacement or where a technician can attend and effect a repair, these should be undertaken promptly. 

In circumstances where a repair cannot be carried out at the vehicle's location (be it on the road or at a depot), the vehicle should be recovered to a repair centre to be repaired if the defect would constitute a serious safety issue if it were to be used. In cases such as this, under no circumstances should a vehicle be moved where a defect is found that renders the vehicle to be in an unroadworthy condition and unfit to be driven on a public highway. 

Where a defect is found and is such that the vehicle can be driven safely to a repairing centre, then this is acceptable, as long as the vehicle is not used to carry out its normal function by deviating to a customer’s premises to load/unload whilst on the route. 

Upon completion of a defect report, the report sheet should be taken with the driver. In the event of that driver being stopped at a DVSA roadside check, he/she will likely be asked for the same. Upon completion of the driver's daily duties, the defect report sheet should be finalised, noting any defect(s) that may have been found, or if none, then 'Nil' should be noted in the section where a defect(s) would normally be entered. Regardless of either, the report sheet should be signed off by the driver. 

If a driver has only completed a day’s journey where the start and finish points are at the drivers home base, the defect report sheet should be handed into a responsible person in the traffic office. Where any minor defect(s) found during the course of that day’s work have been recorded by the driver, these should then be brought to the attention of a responsible person in the traffic office and the defect(s) must be rectified before the vehicle is used again. In the case of a driver finding a serious defect during the course of the working day, the driver must find a safe place to stop and contact his/her home base immediately. 

To further assist you and your drivers in specifically noting what should be checked during drivers daily walk round check, DVSA has produced an HGV poster guide which we strongly recommend, it is available to be downloaded from the link below. 

Responsibility The responsibility for the vehicle and the safe operation of the same must ultimately fall to the following company employees:

  • The person responsible for the Operator’s License; or 
  • An appointed and responsible person managing the fleet at an operating centre, who does so upon behalf of the license holder – usually the TM; or 
  • The driver of each vehicle at the operating centre each day a vehicle is driven 

It should be noted here, that if a driver drives more than one vehicle each day, a daily walk round check and defect sheet must be completed for each vehicle he/she drives. 

In the case of an owner-driver, the onus lies with the owner-driver and/or any driver who may be employed to cover his/her absence, and will follow the points above. Responsibility for the vehicle and its safety compliance will lay at the door of both the operator license holder and the driver. 

The person made responsible by the operator (or any person acting upon instruction from an operators deputy) must carry out a minimum of one check-in 24 hours upon the vehicle in his/her care. The check should consist of a walk around look over the whole vehicle or combination.  

On multi-trailer operations, a defect check should be made for each trailer being used. The check should cover the external condition, ensuring in particular that the lights, tyres, wheel fixings, bodywork, trailer coupling, load and ancillary equipment are serviceable. 

There must be a system of reporting and recording faults that may affect the roadworthiness of the vehicle and having them put right before the vehicle is used. Daily defect checks are vital, and the results of such checks should be recorded. It is important that enough time is allowed for the completion of these checks and that staff are encouraged and trained to carry them out thoroughly. Drivers should be made aware that daily defect reporting is one of the critical elements of any effective vehicle roadworthiness system. 

If you are the user of the vehicle, it is your responsibility to ensure that any hired, leased or a borrowed vehicle is in a roadworthy condition and has all the necessary certification when used on the road. Therefore it is essential that you do a daily walk around check (as described previously) before any such vehicle is used. It is your responsibility to be able to provide maintenance records covering the period of use. Furthermore, if a vehicle has been off the road for a period longer than between planned maintenance inspections, it should be given a full safety inspection (PMI), prior to being brought back into use. 

Drivers Defect Reports 

Every driver is responsible for the condition of his/her vehicle when in use on the road. When a vehicle is an on-site work, a walk around the vehicle to identify any defects that may have occurred whilst in use on uneven terrain should be a regular part of that driver's responsibilities. If any defects are found, the vehicle must not be used on the road until it is repaired and the defect(s) rectified. A written report noting any defects found during the daily check while the vehicle is in use or on its return to base must be made by the driver. 

The details recorded on a defect report sheet should include:

  • Vehicle registration or identification mark 
  • Date 
  • Details of the defects or symptoms 
  • The driver's name 
  • The name, position and date of the person who rectified the defect – this could be the driver 

It is common practice to use a composite form that also includes a list of the items checked each day. It is advisable that where practicable the system should incorporate 'Nil' reporting when each driver makes out a report sheet - or confirms by another means that a daily check has been carried out and no defects found. Electronic records of reported defects are acceptable and must be available for 15 months along with any record of the repair. 

'Nil' defect reports, if they are produced, should be kept for as long as they are useful. Normally this is until the next one is received or until the next scheduled safety inspection is undertaken. Although 'Nil' defect reports are not required under the conditions of operator licensing, we would advocate keeping and filing them, as they are a useful means of checking that drivers are carrying out their duties in this respect. 

If you are an owner-driver, you will probably not have anyone to report defects to, except to your transport manager (if you have one). In these cases, defects can simply be recorded and held for at least 15 months, along with the information regarding the rectification of the defect(s) in question. 

Drivers must be able to report any defects or symptoms of defects that could prevent the safe operation of the vehicles. In addition to daily checks you must monitor the roadworthiness of your vehicle(s) when being driven and be alert to any indication that the vehicle is developing a fault (e.g. warning lights, exhaust emitting too much smoke, vibrations) or other symptoms. 

All drivers defect reports must be given to a responsible person with sufficient authority to ensure that any appropriate action is taken. This might include taking the vehicle out of service. Any report listing defects is part of the vehicle’s maintenance record and must be kept, together with details of the remedial action taken, for at least 15 months.   

The checklist below was taken from a DVSA Source and was published on 20 Sept 2019. 


  1. Mirrors and glass

Check that the windscreen is not: 

  • Cracked 
  • Scratched 
  • Discoloured 

Check that the windscreen and front side windows are not excessively tinted. 

Check that all mirrors are in place and not: 

  • Damaged or missing glass 
  • Obscured 
  • Insecure 

If a camera system is used instead of a mirror, check that it works and the view is correct. 

  1. Windscreen wipers and washers

Make sure the windscreen wipers work. Check that they are not:

  • Missing 
  • Damaged or worn 

Make sure the windscreen washer is working. 

  1. Front view

Check that no objects get in the way of your front view. As a general rule, there should be nothing in the swept area of the windscreen wipers. Some official stickers and road safety items are allowed, as long as they do not seriously block your view of the road, for example, operator licence disc. 

  1. Dashboard warning lights and gauges

Check that all of these are working correctly:

  • Instruments 
  • Gauges 
  • Warning lights - including the engine warning, emissions system, anti-lock braking system (ABS) and electronic braking system (EBS) 
  1. Steering

Check that the steering wheel:

  • Moves properly and that the power-assisted steering works correctly 
  • Has no excessive play 
  • Does not jam 
  • Check that there’s no excessive lift or movement in the steering column. 
  1. Horn

Check that the horn works and is easily accessible from the driver’s seat. 

  1. Brakes and air build-up

Check that:

  • The air builds up correctly and warning system works 
  • There are no air leaks 
  • The footwell is clear 
  • The service brake operates both the tractor and trailer brakes 
  • The parking brake for the tractor works 
  • The service brake pedal does not have an excessive side play or missing loose or incomplete anti-slip tread 
  1. Height marker

Check the correct vehicle height is displayed on the vehicle height marker in the cab. Remember, the height can change, for example, when the fifth wheel is adjusted, or if the trailer is loaded, unloaded or reloaded. 

  1. Seatbelts

Check that seatbelt:

  • Do not have any cuts, damage or fraying that may stop them from working 
  • Stay secure when you plug them in 
  • Retract against you when fitted, and fully retract when you take them off 


  1. Lights and indicators

Check that:

  • All lights and indicators work correctly 
  • All lenses are fitted, clean and the right colour 
  • Stop lamps come on when you apply the service brake and go out when you release it 
  • Marker lights are fitted and work 
  1. Fuel and oil leaks

Check that the fuel filler cap is fitted correctly. Turn on the engine and check underneath the vehicle for any fuel or oil leaks. 

  1. Battery security and conditions

Check that your battery is:

  • Secure 
  • In good condition 
  • Not leaking 
  1. Diesel exhaust fluid (AdBlue)

Check that your diesel vehicle has enough AdBlue diesel exhaust fluid and top up if necessary. 

  1. Excessive engine exhaust smoke

Check that the exhaust does not emit an excessive amount of smoke. 

  1. Security of body and wings

Check that:

  • All fastening devices work 
  • Cab doors and trailer doors are secure when closed 
  • Body panels on tractor or trailer are secure and not likely to fall off 
  • Landing legs (if fitted) are secure and not likely to fall off while driving 
  • Sideguards and rear under-run guards are fitted if required and that they’re not insecure or damaged 
  1. Spray suppression

If spray suppression flaps are required, check that they are: 

  • Fitted 
  • Secure 
  • Not damaged 
  • Not clogged with mud or debris 
  1. Tyres and wheel fixing

Check that:

  • The tyres and wheels are secure 
  • The tyres have a tread depth of at least 1mm 
  • The tyres are inflated correctly 
  • There are no deep cuts in the tyre’s sidewall 
  • There is no cord visible anywhere on the tyre 
  • All-wheel nuts are tight enough - you can check if wheel nut indicators (if fitted) have moved to do this 
  • There are no objects or debris trapped between the twin wheels 
  1. Brake lines and trailer parking brake

Check that:

  • Couplings are free from debris and are in the right place 
  • There are no leaks 
  • There is no damage or wear to the brake lines 
  • The parking brake for the trailer works 

After the initial brake test, leave the engine running so pressure can build up. This will make it easier to hear any leaks as you carry out the rest of the walkaround check. 

  1. Electrical connections

Check each connection and make sure that all:

  • Visible wiring is insulated 
  • Visible wiring is not likely to get caught or damaged 
  • All electrical trailer couplings are connected securely 
  • All electrical switches work correctly 
  1. Coupling security

Check that your vehicle is securely attached to your trailer and that the:

  • Trailer is located correctly in the fifth wheel or coupling 
  • Secondary locking devices are in the correct position 
  1. Security of load

Check that the load does not move and is not likely to move. Make sure you use the right type of load securing system for the load. If you’re not happy with how the load is secured or how stable it is, ask the person in charge of vehicle safety to:

  • Get a competent person to assess it 
  • Reload or re-secure it if necessary 

Read detailed guidance about load securing. 

  1. Number plate

Check that the number plate is not:

  • Broken or incomplete 
  • Incorrect or spaced incorrectly 
  • Dirty 
  • Faded 
  • Covered over by anything 
  1. Reflectors

Check that the reflectors (including side reflectors) are not:

  • Missingbroken or insecure 
  • Fitted incorrectly 
  • The wrong colour 
  • Obscured by dirt or other objects 
  1. Markings and warning plates

Check that the vehicle’s markings (including conspicuity markings) are:

  • The right colour 
  • Visible 
  • Securely fastened 
  • Not obscured by dirt or other objects 

If the vehicle is carrying dangerous goods, check that the hazard information panels are:

  • Showing  
  • The correct information for the load  
  • Are visible 
  • Securely fastened  
  • Not obscured by dirt or other objects 

Other check items 

You might need to check other items specific to the vehicle, for example, loading or specialised equipment. 

Record and report the result of your check 

Record and report all defects that you:

  • Find during the daily walkaround check 
  • Become aware of during your journey 

What to record 


  • The vehicle registration (number plate) or identification mark 
  • The date 
  • Details of the defects or symptoms 
  • Your assessment of the defects (for example, ‘dangerous’) 
  • Your name 
  • Who it was reported to 

Use a form that includes a list of the items checked each day. Record ‘nil’ defects if you do not find any. 

Download a template to use or use the system that your employer provides. 

HGV walkaround check defect report form

DVSA can ask for a record of your walkaround check at a roadside check. 

If you become aware of defects during your journey 

Find a safe place to stop to assess and report any defects you become aware of during your journey. 

You must get dangerous defects fixed before you continue your journey. 

You can get an unlimited fine and a prison sentence for using an HGV in a dangerous condition. 

Further Reading 

The following should assist in giving guidance and further information, please use the links below.