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2017 - A Year In Review

2017 – A Year In Review

It’s December already and we can’t quite believe where the time has gone as we edge into the New Year.  We’ve been reflecting on this past year at Drivers Direct, thinking about our success and the achievements of our team.

In February, we became members of the Association of Recruitment Consultancies (ARC) – following our MD Gethin Roberts’ attendance at an ARC presentation.  We found that our objectives and values ran parallel to ARC which was a deciding factor for joining, as well as the association covering issues that really matter to those working in the recruitment sector.

May saw us through to the finals at the Global Recruiter Awards in the Best Use of Social Media Category for our anti-drink driving campaign; where we used striking posters to show the devastating effects of drinking and driving.  It was fantastic to have been nominated for the category and a great day was had by all at the Café de Paris in June.

We had our successful annual black tie ball for our employees back in May, showing recognition to the branches whose hard work has really shone through over this past year.  The Doncaster office was named as one of the most successful branches with their manager, Jason Hardisty winning a trip to London.  Kaylie Parker at the Eastleigh branch won a trip to Paris following their win of the ‘Highest Margin’ title.

After providing Drivers Direct with 5 top quality years of service, Christopher Unsworth of the Leyland branch, David Dawson of the Sheffield branch and Maxine Mew of the Sutton branch were each given the ‘Five Year’ award – a well deserved nomination.  As the most top performing franchise, Manchester won ‘Franchise of the Year’, as well as a cheque for £1,500.  Scooping one of the top awards, Nana Bempong was dubbed ‘Employee of the Year’ as he was the most successful employee out of all the branches – quite the accolade!  As the Cardiff office was recognised as the most successful branch of all, manager Luke Davies, won himself the coveted trip to New York.

After creating a shortlist of charities to support at our annual ball, our staff chose the Victory Services Club which is a great cause which offers respite and welfare breaks, rewards and recognition along with a free membership for serving Armed Forces.  Everyone who attended our annual ball made a donation and in September we presented our donation to the club, having raised £250,000 for the charity – an achievement we’re incredibly proud of.  We hope with our donation further enables the club to give the best possible experience to those serving in the military, past and present.

All in all, it has been a great year for Drivers Direct. What’s on the cards for 2018? We’ll be opening 3 more branches, as well as setting our sights on moving to a bigger HQ as we look to further expand the business.

From all of us here at Drivers Direct, we hope you have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

 

 

 

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Speed Down Save Lives

Speed Down Save Lives

Taking place this week (20th-26th November), Road Safety Week is encouraging drivers to ‘Speed Down Save Lives’.  The road safety charity, Brake, have been spreading their life-saving messages since 1997 with a different theme every year and this year they’re encouraging people to spare a thought for the impact of breaking the legal speed limit.

The charity shares some startling facts to support the importance of this years’ theme:

  • Police records detail that travelling too fast is a contributory factor for one in four (23%) fatal crashes in Great Britain.
  • Drivers that have committed just one speeding violation annually are twice as likely to crash compared to those with none.
  • 4 in 10 UK drivers admitted to driving at 30mph in a 20mph zone, according to result from a Brake survey.

These figures are a prime example of why road safety charities are so important.  As a recruitment company for drivers, we see ourselves as ambassadors of the road and always promote the highest levels of safety.  We’re delighted to see Road Safety Week focusing on such an important issue.

There’s no limit on who can get involved with this awareness week, people from all sectors and organisations are encouraged to get involved.  Your support can vary from tapping into the hashtag “#speeddown”, on social media and thinking about your own speed on the road to ordering an action pack to use at your workplace or local community gatherings.  If you’re stuck for ideas on how you can fundraise for Road Safety Week – there’s plenty of donation inspiration on their website.

Making a donation to Brake can help run their helpline, provide picture books for children who’ve been affected by road accidents and source road safety packs for early years educators.  In May of this year, Brake also gave their support to the United Nations Global Road Safety Week – focusing on managing speed and prioritising road safety worldwide.  A small change makes big results with research showing that just a 5% decrease in speed can cause a 30% reduction in fatal road accidents.  To think such a small difference could save a life, it’s incredibly important for all drivers to keep these types of statistics in mind when they’re on the road.

Here at Drivers Direct, as professional and highly trained drivers we take road safety very seriously and we think this campaign goes hand-in-hand perfectly with the new speeding fines implemented back in April of this year.  We think these new fines are a great way to discourage speeding on our roads:

  • Band A – Although this relates to the lowest level of speeding, you could find yourself with 3 points on your license with a fine of 50% of your weekly income. This band equates to driving between 21mph and 30mph in a 20mph zone.
  • Band B – For more serious speeding, you could find 4 – 6 points on your license or even a disqualification between 7 and 28 days, including a fine of 100% of your weekly income. For example, you could be driving between 56mph to 65mph in a 40mph zone.
  • Band C – Reaching this band is a serious cause for concern as you would’ve been driving 51mph or above in a 30mph zone. That’s 6 points on your license and ban from driving from 7 up to 56 days along with a fine of 150% of your weekly income.

We encourage ALL road users to think about their speed and how a small decrease in speed can truly mean the difference between a normal day on the way to work or a fatal road accident.  If you’re aware of bad traffic on your route to work, you can actively make a change to your “need for speed” by leaving your house earlier than usual.

How will you be getting involved this year?

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Black Friday: Are You Ready?

Black Friday: Are You Ready?

The biggest sale event of the year is coming soon on 24th November, a day where the public tackle crowds and queues for their coveted Christmas shopping.  With the dramatic reduction in prices across retailers, sales will be set to soar – which will have a direct effect on the delivery industry.

An article in the Telegraph last November discussed how Black Friday doesn’t make people spend more money for Christmas, it just makes them spend earlier.  This leads to a demand not only during January clearances and the week run-up to Christmas, but also way ahead in November.

Most high street shops offer online shopping with the option to collect your items for free from your local branch.  However, customers are far more likely to opt for the consumer-convenient home delivery option; and Black Friday poses as an even greater challenge to drivers: with the dramatic reduction of prices comes a huge influx of online orders, each expected to be delivered directly to homes across the nation within a maximum of 5 working days.

Following last years’ reports on safety of delivery drivers during Black Friday, it’s important for retail managers to ensure that they have recruited enough driving staff to keep up with this high customer demand.  This is even more important given that last year the media reported empty high street shops as the Black Friday race took place online – leaving town centres quiet, but online shops full of people making their Black Friday purchases!

As Black Friday becomes more and more popular each year, it could be argued that November may replace December as being the peak trading month.  Not only that, online spends of up to £20 billion have been predicted – highly qualified, professional drivers will be more vital than ever for the consumer economy to run efficiently.

And although it is, of course, important to make sure customers are satisfied and receive their orders on time, it’s even more important to ensure that there is enough rotation amongst delivery staff to prevent fatigue behind the wheel.  Not only are well rested drivers a crucial health and safety measurement for delivery staff and other road users, but businesses will find that their retail supply chain becomes a far more seamless operation.

If you’re thinking about the logistics of your Black Friday sale, get in touch with our team of professionals today to discuss the benefits of taking on temporary driving staff during this busy season.

 

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petrol

2040 Petrol-diesel car ban: ‘Smokescreen’ or a welcomed reality?

Following France’s announcement at the beginning of July to ban all fossil fuel powered vehicles, our own government has made an announcement of their own.   The breaking news from parliament is that the UK is banning petrol-diesel cars from 2040, with a new tax implemented on diesel drivers by 2020.  We think it’s great news that the government are being proactive in making a change to the current air pollutions level in the UK. However, the Government should also ensure that individuals do not lose out in the run up to any tax increase, or bans, given that the UK Government also encouraged us all to go Diesel in the past.

 

According to health experts and medical practitioners, air pollution has contributed to the loss of around 40,000 lives a year and it’s been concluded that poor air quality is now a public health emergency.  Speaking to The Independent, Darren Baxter, a researcher with IPPR North referred to air pollution as the “tobacco of the 21st century.”  Just as smoking was regulated by the government, it’ll be just as important to tackle air pollution.  A briefing from the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs and Public Health England details that air pollution contributes to cardiovascular disease, lung cancer and respiratory disease.

 

Amongst the positive reactions to this announcement there have been some criticisms.  It’s been argued that action needs to be taken now in 2017 and not in twenty-three years time, especially as electric cars are already being manufactured.  Citizens of the UK will continue to be at risk from harmful air pollution between now and 2040.

 

Speaking to the Financial Times, Andy Palmer, chief executive at Aston Martin also criticised the ban and urged the Government to assist in the transition to electric technology to lessen the economic impact on the British car industry.  Palmer went on to say that the target for electric car sales by 2040 is absurd due to the long distances that some drivers need to travel (this would certainly apply to many of us in the driving and haulage profession).  Erik Fairbairn, founder and chief executive of electric car charging company PodPoint, predicts that up to 45m charging points will be needed for installation into most households by 2040.  A lot of planning and changing will be need to reach such a vast goal.

 

The talk of the petrol-diesel ban has mainly related to cars – but how will the new law affect the haulage industry specifically?  Of course, logistics is extremely important as we live in a high demand world of online shopping and the promise of next day delivery.  An article from the BBC discusses how not all vehicle owners will switch to electric replacements.  With regards to heavy goods and public service vehicle owners, they may use natural gas or hydrogen powered modules.  The use of a hydrogen powered vehicle could potentially have the capacity to match the same range as a petrol-diesel vehicle.  It is non-polluting, quieter and three times more efficient than conventional engines.  However, it has been confirmed that HGVs are excluded from the ban, but there are plans to include them beyond that.  This could answer some questions for HGV drivers in the logistics industry who’ve been unsure of the implications of this new plan.  The Government intend to devise an incentive by making changes to the HGV Road User Levy to help reduce carbon emissions and increase air quality.

 

Overall there have been mixed responses to this recent news from the Government but we certainly support it and we’re always on the lookout for the latest technology and ways we can contribute to helping our environment.  We look forward to seeing how technology develops to meet the goals of eventually reducing the unhealthy effects of air pollution.

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Reducing Your Carbon Footprint

In 2008, Carbon Dioxide was considered a major greenhouse gas – accounting for 85 per cent of UK emissions.  According to the Freight Transport Association (FTA) support guide, if we want to reduce the risk of temperatures rising by at least 2° C by 2100, we need to cut emissions in half by 2050.

Whether you drive a car, van, truck or a motorbike, there are loads of simple changes you can make which can help to reduce your carbon footprint:

Within the freight sector, there are ‘smart logistics’ available in the form of telematics – which we’ve discussed previously in our blog as the future of driving.  The telematics system collects data from a GPS, a sensor on the engine and an accelerometer.  The sensor notes vehicle health data such as fuel economy, service needs and carbon dioxide output.  This allows companies to work out if they need new electric vehicle technology, which in turn would reduce carbon output drastically.  This technology will also highlight the vehicles that are no longer fuel efficient.  It is worth installing a telematics system in your vehicle so you too can do your bit for the environment.

The Logistics Carbon Reduction Scheme is an industry-led approach endorsed by the FTA, looking to reduce carbon emissions from freight transport.  The scheme offers benefits to operators with cost reduction and efficiency improvements and there are annual reports on the progress of the participants.  The five efficiency indicators include fuel efficiency improvements, better commercial vehicle utilisation, use of alternative low-carbon fuels, less carbon intensive supply chains and use of low carbon transport modes.  This type of scheme could have a hugely positive impact on how logistics are managed in the future.

Whether you run a business or just run your own private car, the most obvious solution is to go straight to the source, and that’s the type of fuel you use.  Whatever vehicle you drive, why not opt for green fuel types?  If you have a petrol vehicle you could have it altered so it can run on LPG (liquid petroleum gas) which is used in camping stoves.  The conversion may be pricey but the benefits outweigh the costs when you’ve got a car that runs on cheap fuel.  The option for a diesel user is biodiesel, made from recycled vegetable oil.

The simplest and easiest way to help reduce your carbon footprint is to adapt to an efficient driving habit that is eco-friendly.  For example, don’t go beyond the speed limit to avoid emitting extra CO2 into the environment; this goes hand in hand with being safe on the road too.

Whatever road you choose to take, make sure it involves a reduced carbon footprint!

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music

Top 10 Songs to Improve Your Drive

Wednesday 21st June marks the start of the Fête de la Musique. Also known as ‘World Music Day’, it offers a global celebration of something that has a heavy presence within the majority of our everyday lives. Whether you’re a hairbrush diva or all your road trips have their own playlists, World Music Day should be celebrated – with experts concluding that there are a number of health benefits to listening (and singing!) to music at the wheel.

 

There’s nothing quite like a song you love, but had long-forgotten about, unexpectedly coming on the radio while you’re driving. But what exactly is the science behind that rush we get when we know every word to a nostalgia-filled song from yesteryear? Professor Stephen Clift, a leading authority on the health benefits of singing based at the U.K.’s Canterbury Christ Church University, says: ‘Singing loudly and free from inhibitions – really ‘letting go’ – means the mental release will be greater as more energy is put into it […] When we sing familiar songs loudly, we experience a ‘feel-good factor’ arising from deeper, slower breathing, and increased muscular activity. We feel less stressed and more relaxed.’ Even more of an excuse to crank up the volume!

 

Furthermore, Jan Schroll, supervisor Multi‑Media and Connectivity at Ford of Europe, says: ‘Experts agree that there are a range of health benefits to staging impromptu karaoke sessions at the wheel – ones we only feel truly comfortable giving when there is no one else around, and the in-car sound system is providing the backing. For many people listening to the music they love on the move is a fundamental part of every journey – it is the soundtrack to their own personal road movie.’ So, not only does blasting the tunes feel great, but it’s great for you, too.

 

Despite the huge shift towards more technological aspects of listening to music, such as streaming services like Spotify and Pandora, there’s nothing wrong with going old-fashioned, as displayed by a study from Edison Research. They conducted a study of more than 8,500 Americans aged 13 and over to determine where their time listening to music is spent. 44% of listening time was via AM/FM radio: by far the largest share. The number 2 share of listening time, at just 18%, was spent listening to music that had been purchased, such as CDs or digital downloads. So, if it’s the iPod you’re plugging in or relying on the good old-fashioned stereo, all evidence shows that it’s good for you in every way!

 

In celebration of World Music Day, here at Drivers Direct we’ve compiled a playlist of some of the best driving songs for your next journey:

 

Born To be Wild – Steppenwolf

Highway to Hell – AC/DC

Jessica – The Allman Brothers

Don’t Stop Me Now – Queen

Fast Car – Tracy Chapman

Road to Nowhere – Talking Heads

Life is a Highway – Tom Cochrane

Home – Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros

Mr. Blue Sky – ELO

Drive My Car – The Beatles

 

We hope this playlist will help you along your next long drive – and remember that as great as sing-alongs are, remember to keep focussed on the road and never let music distract you from safe driving.

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Keeping Healthy Behind the Wheel

After World Health Day was celebrated around the globe on 7th April, we began to think about ways which we could keep healthy whilst on the road. Many studies over the years have shown that those in the road haulage industry are at a higher risk of developing obesity and other relates illnesses, due to a combination of factors including shift times, the sedentary nature of driving, stress and the limited food options available for truck drivers. So what can be done to make sure that we keep ourselves healthy?

 

The first step towards leading a healthier lifestyle is to take a think about what we’re putting into our bodies. When deadlines are tight and life is hectic, it can be tempting to reach for the junk food, be that pasties, chips or chocolate – which isn’t helped by the limited options that can be found roadside. The way forward is to prep ahead! Take half an hour out of your day, and your body will thank you. Ditch the mayo-filled sandwich and tuck into this spicy chicken and avocado wrap; if you’re a pasta lover, why not try making your own pasta salad brimming with pesto, vegetables and tuna?

 

Another way to help look after your health is to try to work in even a small amount of exercise each and every day. Even if it’s only 10 minutes of a quick walk around the block or some basic stretches before bed, getting your blood pumping and raising your heart just a little will do your body the world of good. If you’re just starting on an exercise journey, it can be hard to find the motivation to turn it into habit. Writing down in a diary what you intend to do each day will help keep you on track, or partnering up with a friend or family member is huge help to encourage you to stick to your plan.

 

A key to good health which may slip many people’s minds is keeping hydrated. Drinking enough water is necessary for the body to work properly – water helps to transport nutrients and oxygen around the body, gets rid of waste products, helps control the body’s temperature and keep the digestive system working properly. Not only that, but drinking plenty of water helps to keep headaches and hunger at bay. Just how much we should be drinking varies on age, activity level and environment – though many people aim for 8 glasses of water a day. Keep a large water bottle in your cab to make sure you never run out, and set small aims for drinking a certain amount every hour if you struggle to drink enough.

 

As well as keeping our physical bodies healthy, it’s important to look after our state of mind healthy as well. The modern world brings a whole load of stresses to our every day lives, and it doesn’t take much to go from feeling a little stressed to completely burnt out. Mindfulness is a hugely popular technique where you start to focus on the small things you notice in the moment when you feel yourself started to get overwhelmed. Focus on how different parts of your body feels, the sights, sounds and smells that are immediately surrounding you that tend to fade into the background. If mindfulness isn’t for you, try to take 5 minutes every day (either before you go to bed, or when you start to feel getting stressed out) where you pick one thing or person that you’re grateful for, and immerse yourself in a memory of them to bring yourself just a few quiet moments of peace.

 

We hope that this blog helps you take some steps to kick start a journey to being a healthier you. If you are worried about any aspect of your physical or mental health, always contact your GP.

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Driving in the Rain – Dangers and Safety

Winter doesn’t look like it’s going anywhere anytime soon, and that includes the fairly miserable weather that comes with it! There’s no escaping the wet weather in this country, but just how dangerous is it to take to the road when it’s raining, and what can we do to ensure our own and others’ safety?

First of all, make sure you leave yourself extra time to make your journey – don’t put yourself under pressure to make it to your destination on time when there may well be a likelihood of dangerous roads and congestion and you may endanger yourself and other road users to do so.

Many people may rush to their cars at the first sign of rain – but remember that the most dangerous time to drive in this bad weather is when it has just started raining. This is because the rain will mix with the oil and dust which has been sitting on the road surface

Driving in the rain can also seriously reduce visibility, so it’s vital to turn your dipped beam headlights on so that other road users can see you – even in the daylight. Be sure to check that your headlights are working before heading out in wet weather.

When on the road, remember that The Highway Code states that stopping distances are at least doubled in wet weather as the tyres will have less grip on the road. It is recommended to leave a 4 second gap between yourself and the car in front – count how long it takes the vehicle in front to pass a lamppost or other markings before you pass it yourself.

It is always a good idea to adjust your speed to meet the conditions in the rain, which can reduce the chances of ‘aquaplaning’. Aquaplaning refers to when your vehicle’s tyres come into contact with too much water than they can clear away, so the water builds under the tyre and lifts it away from the road surface so you are essentially ‘gliding’ across the water which has the potential to make you lose control of your vehicle.

You can usually tell if you’re aquaplaning if your steering wheel suddenly feels light and you can hear the rush of the water underneath your vehicle. It is essential that if this happens to you, that you do not brake – slamming on your brakes will make the car skid even further out of your control. Slowly release the accelerator and focus on keeping the car in the centre of the road, and eventually the water will be released and your tyres will grip the road again.

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Telematics – The Future of Driving

Telematics is becoming essential for larger logistic companies with research showing that almost nine out of 10 fleets, with more than 500 employees, have introduced telematics. One thing’s for sure, with the rise of technology infiltrating our everyday lives more and more, it will become a fundamental part of fleet management over the next few years.

Innovations in technology are changing how the world does business, and technology is dramatically changing how the logistics industry function in nearly every aspect. From increased affordability and efficiency of the transportation management system (TMS) to the application of Bluetooth technology for superior tracking of product movements.

These advances have their advantages and telematics can help tackle four of the biggest issues facing fleets: cost control; risk management; carbon reduction; and fleet productivity.  Here’s a breakdown of the benefits….

 

1. Helps to reduce insurance cost

When a company installs GPS tracking devices in its vehicles, insurance companies give discounts on premiums. Therefore, by equipping all vehicles with GPS tacking devices, the companies tremendously reduce the insurance premiums that they pay every month.

 

2. Helps locate vehicles at any given time

Knowing the location of vehicles at all times helps a transportation company to communicate more effectively with not only drivers, but with its customers as well. By seeing the location of all company vehicles on a map, a company can tell its customers the exact time they should expect the goods being transported to them to arrive.

 

3. Helps improve safety

The safety of both driver and freight on transit has been greatly improved with GPS tracking. If drivers were ever to run into problems, they can get the help they need from their headquarters who will be able to locate them. If there is a problem with a vehicle, another vehicle can be sent immediately to the exact location of the vehicle that has problems. This has helped to minimize delays that can eat up the profits up these companies and affect customers expecting deliveries.

 

4. Helps companies to manage maintenance

Telematics create alerts based on mileage, engine use or time. This helps to develop an advanced vehicle maintenance schedule. Vehicles that are properly maintained and serviced will rarely develop mechanical problems that can delay the movement of goods, and improve driver safety.

 

5. Helps companies earn the trust of customers

GPS fleet tracking has enabled transportation companies to earn the trust of their customers. This is because a company that has GPS tracking systems on its vehicles is able to tell a customer the specific location of goods being transported at any given time. Also, a customer whose goods are being transported can know when their goods are going to reach the desired destination.

Although not the be all and end all, telematics stands out as being the single most cost effective answer to help deliver logistic goals whilst assisting with driver safety. It is certainly a technology whose advancement and development we are eager to see.

 

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HGV Drivers Push For Government Funding

With so many lorries and operator vehicles on UK roads, one wouldn’t think there was a shortage of drivers in the haulage industry, however, driver shortages have been well documented.  Now that we are heading into the peak shopping time of the year, there has been a rise in concerns over the high demand for goods to be delivered quicker than ever before.

The figures speak for themselves as this year alone, it is now expected that there will be a demand for approximately 45,000-60,000 professional drivers to supply goods across the country. Companies now need to ensure their logistic operators are prepared to have enough manpower to be able to deliver on their promises, particularly as customer expectations are rising and next day delivery being expected almost as standard.

So where did this shortage of drivers come from?

HGV drivers are now required to carry out a compulsory test which will award them with a Driver Certificate of Professional Competence (CPC) once completed. The new test takes 35 hours to complete and will costs the individual £500.

However, failure to complete the training will result in a £1000 penalty. It’s estimated that this alone has already motivated more than 20,000 drivers to quit or take early retirement. This figure has put pressure on the industry, as without enough HGV drivers, our retailers and other businesses could potentially have ‘empty shelves’ leaving customers short of vital supplies.

There is also a push to train younger drivers, particularly as recent research found the average age of a HGV driver is 53, much older than most industries. Only 2% of HGV drivers are under 25, while 13% are over 60 years old. The industry has asked for £150 million worth of training for thousands of drivers, urging the Government to act now before the shortage hits and affects the UK’s supply system.

As a compromise the Government has promised to review the speed at which driving and medical tests take place for HGV drivers and will consider how they can speed up this process. Funding support for the training will also be looked into, however this is not guaranteed.

At Drivers Direct we understand the need for more drivers and as the freight industry continues to develop and the pressure on deliveries continues.  HGV driving can be rewarding and enjoyable career choice with the right training and support.

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