CheckedSafe has updated its App-based compliance tool, helping operators and drivers stay safe. Interview by Ian Shaw

The daily vehicle checks which drivers have to undertake are central to road safety, with the fleet operator also having to prove that they are carried out correctly for ‘O’ Licence compliance. Bringing these elements together, one easy-to-use app is the core of the CheckedSafe system. Co-founder Gary Hawthorne has a background in the PCV sector and designed the CheckedSafe platform to operate equally well in this environment, HGV, plant and assets, using bespoke templates for each. Therefore, the same App can be used by operators with mixed HGV and LCV fleets or plant.

By offering a total fleet management solution where otherwise several separate software systems might need to be integrated CheckedSafe offers operators a central data, reporting and control system. It includes scheduling PMIs. brake roller tests, wheel torque, LOLER check, etc, which can be done digitally or manually using PMI sheets, which can then be uploaded to the system. It allows managers to countersign and offers unlimited document storage with unlimited users. It provides a message service via the App and reminders and notifications with daily, weekly or monthly summaries. It allows operators to create their templates within the App. It offers DVLA V5 data to which the operator can add their information on individual vehicles, with a single vehicle and total fleet cost recording, online driver licence checking, and full reporting tools converted into Excel or similar. The system can also generate trend reporting across the fleet. Being cloud-based, it can be accessed from any internet connection, the App works offline too, and there are no software licences to worry about – CheckedSafe operates with all its software – and is a DVSA IT ER accredited and validated system supplier.

Gary Hawthorne has seen how fleet management systems in the bus sector were fragmented and how a single solution could be the answer. “When I left Stagecoach in 2006, I  started my own bus company as a one-man operation. But within five years, I had 40 vehicles and 100 staff,” he explains. Gary sold the company in 2013, moving into transport consultancy, assisting and auditing operators, before becoming a transport manager for several companies. “Doing that, I saw people try and do what we do at CheckedSafe using existing technology, but there were always problems trying to introduce the tech into existing systems.” he adds.

CheckedSafe launched in 2014 on the Android platform and then on Apple iOS in early 2015. “We came at the issue from a different angle,” says Gary. “My experience in the industry meant I could tell tech developers what we needed, mainly to make the system we have totally flexible. “We started with the basic daily walk-round checks App, and it grew out of that,” he explains. The system then rapidly developed into the complete fleet management tool it is today. One recent client was Network Rail, which rolled out the App across its 10,000-vehicle fleet. “We have found that many operators who use our App have also started using us for their garage systems. It enables them to carry out health and safety compliance checks and record that on the same familiar platform,” says Gary.

From a driver’s point of view, there can often be a natural resistance to reporting systems which link directly to management. Still, Gary says it has never been a significant issue.

“We worked with several trade unions in the early days, and all agreed it’s for the driver’s benefit. It’s not us making rules. Rather, we are providing a way of helping drivers to comply with what they need to do anyway. The App protects the driver and company if everyone uses it properly,” Gary asserts.

The system ensures that checks are being carried out, with minimum times for each check, and monitors the movement of the phone or tablet around the vehicle to ensure the driver doesn’t just tick the boxes from the cab.

“That’s one of the unique benefits of our system,” Gary says. “Some operators have drivers reporting defects via a ticket system, but that means they have to remember everything and then fill it in when they get in the cab. With CheckedSafe, they can do it there and then. They can upload a photograph too if needed.” he explains.

So what of the future? “We’re always working on new features, and we develop something new for it almost every week,” says Gary. This comes from proactive customer communications. “We’re here to help our customers and believe in doing whatever we can to help them. We can adapt our software to each customer’s requirements, whether it’s an owner-driver or a large truck fleet operator,” Gary concludes.