The Road Safety Authority (RSA) and An Garda Síochána are urging Heavy Goods Vehicle (HGV) drivers to carry out daily walk around checks to look for defects before setting out on a journey.
The call came as figures show that half of all HGVs inspected in roadside checks by RSA Vehicle Inspectors and An Garda Síochána between 2018-2020, were found to have a roadworthiness defect.
An average of 9,500 HGVs were inspected each year over each of the last three years, with approximately 20% found to have minor defects, 25% major defects and 4% dangerous defects.
The most common major defects detected includes faulty lighting systems, excessively worn braking components and defective anti-lock braking systems which are designed to help drivers maintain steering control in emergency situations.
“As the owner, user or driver of a commercial vehicle you are legally required to ensure that a walk around check of the vehicle is carried out once in every 24-hour period before it is used on a public road. They are essential in preventing potentially dangerous vehicles from causing serious or possibly fatal collisions on the road," said Sam Waide, CEO of the RSA.
"The most common dangerous defects detected include excessively worn or damaged tyres and faulty brake lights. Tyres are a vehicle’s only contact with the road and excessively worn or damaged tyres potentially reduce grip and the vehicle’s ability to stop safely. Vehicles with faulty stop lights have the potential to cause a serious collision as other road users will not be aware that the brakes have been applied and the vehicle is slowing down or coming to a stop.”
He added: “HGV operators need to build a few simple steps into their vehicle maintenance regimes. This includes carrying out daily walkaround checks and preventative maintenance inspections by suitably qualified personnel at appropriate intervals, bearing in mind the vehicle’s condition, age, and mileage.
"If you do spot a defect, seek advice from a suitably qualified person and do not use the vehicle unless it is safe to do so. Vehicles posing a danger to the driver or other road users must not be used until the identified defects are repaired. Make sure you take your Commercial Vehicle Roadworthiness Test on time and review your maintenance system regularly to ensure it is fit for purpose. Please do not take unnecessary risks on the road - check it, fix it, don’t ignore it.”
Assistant Commissioner, Paula Hilman, An Garda Síochána, said: “We want to remind HGV operators that they have a responsibility to ensure their vehicle is kept in a roadworthy condition at all times. Doing so will not only keep the driver safe but will ensure the safety of other motorists, pedestrians, and cyclists, who share the roads with these large vehicles.
"A quarter of the heavy goods vehicles inspected had major defects, which if not addressed as soon as they occur, have the potential to develop into dangerous defects. If convicted driving a dangerously defective vehicle, drivers can expect 5 penalty points and a fine of up to €5,000. No driver wants to lose their licence and their livelihood so ensure your vehicle is always roadworthy. We will continue to work with the RSA in carrying out roadside checks and getting potentially unsafe goods vehicles off our roads.”
The RSA is reminding HGV operators that Commercial Vehicle Roadworthiness Testing (CVRT) has been deemed an essential service during the ongoing COVID restrictions. Operators should apply for their test as normal at www.cvrt.ie.
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