Your daily defect check, how does it work and why do you need to do it?


Commercial vehicles can be driven hundreds of miles every day which makes ensuring that they are properly maintained and road worthy so essential.

In 2013 there were almost 5,000 collisions on Irish roads, over 700 of which involved goods vehicles, and 6-8% of the collisions causing injury were caused by vehicle defects, most of which were maintenance related. These numbers are shocking, and with approximately 2.5 million vehicles on our roads and the numbers rising year on year minimising accidents and injuries has become even more of a focus.

To help prevent accidents the RSA launched the mandatory daily defect check in 2012, to tackle issues such as the 6-8% of collisions mentioned above.


The onus is on the driver, not the owner of the vehicle to check, confirm and record that their vehicle has passed their daily pre-check and is of a safe standard. If the vehicle has failed a safety critical check, then they cannot be driven on the roads. However, the employer or fleet manager must ensure that the driver is familiar with their vehicle, and has been trained to carry out their daily vehicle pre-checks. They are also required to have a process in place for reporting and fixing defects. Additionally, drivers must be able to show the gardai at roadside checks a record of the previous five days of completed daily defect checks, and if they cannot, the driver could be fined, get five penalty points on their license or even a prison sentence.

The daily checks are a mix of internal and external vehicle checks and include checks for:


  • Visibility – all windows and mirrors clean and giving the driver full visibility
  • Driving controls adjusted correctly – seat and seat belts
  • All instruments and gauges operating correctly – no warning lights displayed in the dashboard
  • Visibility aids operating correctly - windscreen wipers, demisters
  • High visibility jacket or vest in the vehicle
  • Load – secure and within vehicle limits


  • Vehicle sitting square
  • Wheels and tyres secure and in good condition
  • All lights and reflectors in good condition
  • Exhaust secure with no excess smoke or noise
  • Number plate, tax, insurance and CVRT discs clearly visible
  • Liquid levels correct and no leakage – oil, windscreen washer, water and fuel  

Business Benefits

It is important that drivers do their daily defect pre-check, not just for the obvious safety benefits, but also for the cost benefits that it can give your company. Vehicles that are properly maintained tend to be more fuel efficient, are more reliable and have less downtime when off the road having issues repaired, and having a good service history ensures a greater residual value for a vehicle.


In October 2017 Northgate will be launching a free App for our customers, one aspect of which has been RSA approved to allow drivers to do their mandatory daily pre-check, book any necessary maintenance work with the Northgate workshops, and store this information as readily available in case of Garda inquiry.


The statistics in this article are from the RSA website