Downtime can be an expensive problem for businesses.

According to LeasePlan’s own estimate, the average cost of having a van out of action for 24 hours is about £750. Start adding on more days and more vans and that’s a lot of money that could have gone towards growing the business instead.

The good news is that, in many cases, these costs are avoidable. The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency reckons that almost 50% of all MOT failures could be avoided by performing simple checks and maintenance on a regular basis.

How regular? Drivers should perform walkaround checks of their vehicle every working day – before they go out on the roads. This is the best practice recommended by the Freight Transport Association and the Fleet Operator Recognition Scheme, among other industry bodies.

These walkaround checks must be thorough. They should encompass everything from the vehicle’s brakes to its headlights. Is the suspension working as it should be? Are there any warning signals on the dashboard?  

Tyres are a good example of this thoroughness in action. It’s not enough to simply look at a vehicle’s tyres; they should also be measured. The legal minimum tread depth for vans is 1.6mm across the central three-quarters of the tyre, around its entire circumference.

This may sound like a lot to ask of drivers, but the stakes are high. An unroadworthy vehicle isn’t just a risk to profit margins, it’s also a risk to other people. In 2016, there were 876 casualties in accidents caused by faulty tyres, according to figures from the Department for Transport.

It’s also important to remember that walkaround checks aren’t just a job for drivers. Employers have a role to play, too. They must ensure that drivers have both the training and the time to perform these checks.

Crucially, there also needs to be a process for reporting defects and having them fixed.

Making that process digital, rather than paper-based, can help to speed things up for drivers and enable organisations to extract valuable insights from the data.

Investing a few minutes each day in walkaround checks to future-proof your van fleet will yield big improvements in the efficiency of your fleet – and big benefits for the future of your business.

Plan for the Future is produced in association with Leaseplan.