The Extra Foot
A helping hand in vehicle inspection
Drivers’ walk around checks are one of the most important aspects of the everyday running of a fleet. Completing them is not just a case of ticking a box for the DVSA, it’s a great way of spotting damage or faults on a vehicle and getting them sorted before they become a more expensive repair or a bigger safety issue. Anything that makes this process easier and quicker should be a boon.
B&CB’s Chris Peat spoke to David Monroe from Transport Supplies in Belfast, a company that has brought out a product designed to do just this. Called ‘The Extra Foot’, the device holds down a brake pedal to make it easier to check brake lights. It also has a number of accessories that make it useful for other tasks in preparing and cleaning a bus or coach.
Brake light testing and more
The Extra Foot consists of a telescopic pole, one end of which is clipped to the steering wheel and the other pressed into the brake pedal. The idea is it provides a quick and easy way of checking brake lights, requiring only one person. Additionally, it can also be used to ensure there are no air leaks in the braking system. David said a small leak may not be heard if the driver is still in the seat while checking, a problem the new product should solve. According to the company, it is ideal for walk around checks and possession of the device counts towards physical evidence of inspection and compliance with the law.
Beyond the walk around check, The Extra Foot is useful for cleaning mirrors and cameras with the help of a separate attachment. Screw-on heads are available for these cleaning tasks. Adjustable in length, the device can be used to make hard to reach places accessible.
The Extra Foot was developed in Ireland by Unite Union members, Harry and Bobby Connor, who are diesel CV technicians. Realising that marketing a product is not their forte, the pair created a partnership withTransport Supplies, who had the contacts and knowledge of the market to sell and promote it. Before long, the CV original equipment supplier had won a major contract in the bus and coach market in the form of TransLink. So impressed was the operator that it has fitted them in all of its buses across the nation. They are the first public service body to install the device.
Before introducing The Extra Foot, Translink staff had to inspect each vehicle in a ‘checking area’ with each driver held personally responsible for the completion of their check. During the mandatory assessment, a colleague is required to depress the brake whilst the driver completes the walk around check. The only known alternative was to install specialised equipment in the area to assist the lone driver in checking their rear lights. The Extra Foot does away with the need for an additional colleague to assist, which helps achieve greater time efficiencies. Instead of sitting there pressing a brake pedal, they can be out doing something more productive. It also means the check need not be done in a designated area, which aids in ensuring the fleet keeps to schedule as it avoids a build up of vehicles waiting to do their checks in the depot.
Another Irish operator using The Extra Foot is Richmond Coaches. Its MD, Brendan McKenna, said, ‘As an award winning company and recent recipients of the FPTNI Coach Company of the Year Award and Best New Coach 2012/13, we are always striving to be at the forefront of our industry and maintain the highest standards of safety and service.’
‘We were introduced to this innovative product early in 2012. We were given a demonstration and immediately saw the advantages for its application in our workplace. The ability to use this product not only saves time, but ensures both light failures and air leaks in the braking system can be detected. In the past, our checks required two people but now the driver can carry out the checks without the need for a second person to apply the brake pedal. We decided to fit The Extra Foot in all our vehicles and have trained all our drivers and technicians in its use. The Extra Foot is now part of our daily check routine and makes us fully compliant to the legal requirements for vehicle inspections.’
‘In the past our checks required two people but now the driver can carry out the checks without the need for a second person to apply the brake pedal.’
Brendan McKenna, Richmond Coaches MD.
‘Using The Extra Foot is another step in maintaining this high standard and being compliant. This original new product and the great service we received from the company would compel us to recommend it to anyone in the transport sector. We believe this product is a must for all drivers and companies, not just commercially but also for the private car user.’
After the success it has had in Translink’s fleet and with other operators, The Extra Foot is now on its way over the Irish Sea. It has been made available through TTC and a number of distributors, as well as through its own website (www.theextrafoot.com). David said he has already had some interest for it from one major operator in Great Britain. It is not just operators that have recognised the benefits of the product, bus safety organisation, BUSK, has also approved it. Interest for it has also come from abroad. It seems like we may be on the verge of seeing more of this relatively simple, but very useful device.