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Drivers Direct on: Recruitment, Logistics & Brexit

Drivers Direct on: Recruitment, Logistics & Brexit

It’s been hard to ignore the b-word that’s been on everyone’s lips and in the media since 29th March 2017.  Brexit has no doubt been the talk of the country and the world for that matter.  Ever since the referendum results were announced there’s been numerous companies offering their perspective on what they think it will mean for not just the UK but also their own businesses.  With Brexit we’re plunging into the unknown and the UK want answers.

 

With the recruitment sector and Brexit there’s been worries over talent shortages and questions over movability, especially as the recent whitepaper released by the Government stated that there would be free movement.  The report aims to offer a clear vision of what they want to achieve upon exiting the EU – but many are still feeling very much in the dark.  The one saving grace is that the UK plans to negotiate an arrangement that would allow UK nationals to visit the EU for short-term businesses purposes and vice versa for EU citizens.  This would offset any pressure on companies that have link to the EU, for example other offices or business partners.

 

However, some businesses have expressed their doubt in the Government’s ability to proceed successfully with Brexit plans.  The second quarter of 2018 has also seen some recruitment difficulties across various sectors including manufacturing, retail and hospitality – right down to fruit farmers, who are facing a lack of seasonal labourers leading to produce spoiling with too few hands.  It’s vital that UK businesses are brought out of the dark to find out what they can expect following the introduction of Brexit.

 

Recruitment in the professional driving industry, particularly with HGV drivers, is experiencing a similar issue to the fruit farmers.  Workers from the EU are staying in their home countries instead of coming over to the UK for work due to the uncertainty that Brexit poses as we near the leaving date with very little decisions made for the industry.  The Government is still working out the knots for their Brexit plans but the professional driving industry is already experiencing driver shortages, meaning clarity is urgently needed not only for UK businesses, but EU workers too.

 

James Hookham, the Deputy Chief Executive of the Freight Transport

Association recently told industry press that although the recent whitepaper had offered positive proposals for certain areas of the logistics industry, issues such as the security of job status for skilled EU workers are still unspoken for.  The free movement of workers between the UK and EU needs to have further explanation, as well as providing reassurance to businesses who depend on those workers for the continuity of their deliveries.  Over 45,000 HGV drivers from Europe currently work in the UK; without the appropriate working permits, job losses could have a serious effect on the industry.

 

It’s safe to say that there’s been a lot of upset over the thought of the UK leaving the EU, with some even claiming it’ll have an apocalyptic effect!  At this stage in the game, we’re hoping for clarity for the recruitment sector as a whole, as well as what Brexit will mean for foreign drivers and working permits.  As an area that was lightly touched on in the Brexit whitepaper compared to other aspects of logistics, we hope to see a lot more discussion on it in the coming months.

 

 

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Mobiles at the wheel: what’s changed a year on from the new law?

Mobiles at the wheel: what’s changed a year on from the new law?

On March 1st last year, the penalty for being caught on your mobile phone whilst driving increased. This means that drivers caught using their phones at the wheel now receive a penalty of six points on their license, and a fine of £200. The change in law also means that drivers can lose their license if they receive 12 points within two years, as they have been caught twice on their phone. But has the new penalty actually prevented motorists from using their mobile phones whilst driving? We wanted to delve a little bit deeper into how much things have actually changed over the past year.

A year on, new figures have revealed that the number of drivers caught using their mobile phones has almost halved since the new penalty was introduced. Two years ago, in 2016, it was reported that around 74,000 fixed penalty notices were issued to motorists using their phones at the wheel, between March and December. The following year in 2017, during the same months, only 39,000 fixed penalty notices were issued. However, 2018 has also seen a reduction in traffic officers, meaning there is less chance of the motorist mobile users getting caught. This begs the question, has the new penalty actually prevented drivers from using their mobiles, or are they just getting caught less?

Many people are guilty of using their mobile phones at some point when driving, whether it’s for work, to change a song on their car’s Spotify playlist, a friendly chat with someone or keying in a postcode to Google Maps. But the bottom line is, whatever the reason for using your mobile phone behind the wheel, it is not legal, nor is it worth it. Research by the RAC found that nearly one in five firms say their employees have been involved in an accident after using a phone illegally whilst driving for work. Despite research revealing that 89% of drivers are aware of the penalty increase, 26% of those still admit to using their devices behind the wheel. It seems that no matter how high the penalty prices get, people’s addictions to their phones is too much to give up whilst driving.

These figures are startling and suggest that more needs to be done to tackle the 26% of drivers that still reach for their phones. Despite the increased points and fines, the heavy road safety advertising from THINK!, and RAC’s Be phone Smart campaign, mobiles are still causing accidents on the road. Does this mean we should go as far as confiscating phones from drivers? This seems extreme and would be difficult to manage, but it could be one of the only options left that would be effective.

Far too many accidents happen as a result of using phones behind the wheel, which can have devastating impacts on the lives of those involved. Phones are a major distraction for drivers, as answering calls whilst driving increases the risk of an accident up to six times, whilst texting is up to 23 times. Drivers can not only be distracted by holding the phone, but also by giving their attention to the device, which needs to be on the road and the safety of their passengers. Driver distraction plays a 20-30% role of all road collisions and can sometimes be more dangerous than drink driving. Even Apple are discouraging the use of phones at the wheel, by introducing their new setting where notifications can be disabled whilst driving.

So, the moral of the story is, put your phones away whilst driving! We would love to hear if you have any ideas on how to stop drivers from using their phones at the wheel. Get in touch via our Twitter!

 

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Drivers Direct on Tachograph Tampering

Drivers Direct on Tachograph Tampering

With tachograph tampering being a hot topic over the last year we thought we’d explore and delve into the issues that surround it.  Tachographs have an integral part to play in HGVs and commercial vehicles as they record driving time, breaks, rest periods and other types of work carried out by the driver.   When the UK joined the EEC (European Economic Community) in 1973, a social regulation was accepted under the treaty of Accession to support the work of lorry and coach drivers.  In 1979 the UK was held in breach of the rules and regulations and new legislation was put in place to make sure all commercial vehicles had tachographs installed by the end of 1981.  Fast forward to 2006 and the digital tachograph was born and compulsory for all new commercials registered on or after 1st May 2006.

 

 

More recently, tachographs have seen a lot of attention in the news and, unfortunately, this isn’t because they’re incredibly helpful and useful to the wellbeing of drivers.  A BBC investigation found last year that there had been a 21% increase in tachograph tampering compared to 2016.  In a bid to crack down on these misdemeanours, the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) carried out 223,000 roadside checks between April 2016 and March 2017 – a move we fully supported.  During that time, the DVSA found 400 drivers that had crossed the border into the UK and were using “interrupters” to switch off their tachographs.  A Bulgarian driver was stopped in North Wales for using an “interrupter” and driving non-stop for 23 hours.  Using such a device disables a lorry’s advanced braking system and speedometer – a dangerous move which poses a threat to all road users.

 

The whole concept certainly begs the question of why drivers would cheat their tachograph and risk their own and other road users’ safety.

Are unscrupulous businesses themselves putting the pressure on drivers through their company culture of looking the other way, making it appear to be the norm for drivers to exceed their legal hours?  There’s also the darker side, are some drivers distracted by the attraction of more money and finding that tampering with a tachograph is a short cut to this?  Alternatively, could these unscrupulous business owners be allowing this and looking the other way?

 

The consequences of breaching the use of a tachograph start with penalties of up to £5000.  A prison sentence isn’t out of the question either, as was found with two former haulage directors who conspired with drivers to tamper with tachograph records.  They both received sentences of 2 years and 18 months and had some hefty fines to pay.  On a more serious level, crimes of this nature have caused a tragic amount of unnecessary deaths on the road.  According to The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents driver fatigue may be a contributory factor to 20% of road accidents and 25% of fatal or serious crashes.

 

Here at Drivers Direct, we work closely with all our clients and together we take the safety of HGV drivers very seriously and of course others on the roads.  The dangerous decision to tamper with a tachograph can have devastating consequences, with this in mind it’s of vital importance for logistics operators to communicate with their employees and vice versa.  If a driver is feeling concerned about meeting strict deadlines, it must be addressed in a safe and legal manner.  One conversation with an employer could discourage break skipping and, in turn, save a life.

 

Here at Drivers Direct, we encourage plenty of communication between drivers and management, creating a culture where all can bring forward any issues they may have.  We hope that other businesses follow – for the sake of drivers’ physical and mental wellbeing and the safety of our roads.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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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It’s that time of year again…

After the year that called for lower alcohol limit, we are now heading into the party season and there has been a fresh call to reduce the drink driving limit.

The move follows new statistics which show that drink-driving figures have shown no improvement since 2010.  The figure of 240 people killed in collisions where at least one driver was over the drink-drive limit has remained unchanged since 2013.

The new campaign for a lower limit is being led by the Institute of Alcohol Studies (IAS) and supported by a number of stakeholders including the RAC Foundation, the AA, IAM RoadSmart Brake, PACTS and the Police Federation.  The current 80mg limit in England in Wales was set in 1965, but in 2014, Scotland lowered its drink-drive limit to 50mg/100ml – bringing it in line with the rest of Europe.  Malta is now the only country with a drink-drive limit the same as England and Wales, and is also set to lower its limit to 50mg/100ml, leaving us behind.

According to the IAS, reducing the limit to 50mg/100ml would save at least 25 lives per year.  The Department for Transport statistics also show that drink driving costs Great Britain £800m each year, and a British Social Attitudes Survey shows 77 per cent of the public support a lower legal limit.

Due to car and technological advances, we have seen a continual improvement in road safety in every other area except in regards to drink drinking.  Every year more than 3,000 people in the UK are killed or injured as a result of crashes on our roads relating to drink–driving and this number predictably spikes over the Christmas period.

So whilst we pick out our outfits for the office party season, forces across the country are braced for their traditionally hectic festive and New Year period, trying hard to raise awareness of the dangers on our roads and keep people safe as they travel around. It’s a busy time for us at Drivers Direct too with the placing of drivers of all classes for clients who need support either on a temporary, seasonal or more permanent basis.

Even a very small amount of alcohol can affect driving performance with two drinks almost doubling the risk of a fatal accident.  In general, people are getting far better at staying away from the wheel after one too many during the night but too many are quick to jump back behind it after a sleep, unaware that they are still over the limit.

So don’t take chances. Drive safe and stay safe this winter.

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Independent Driving Over Manufactured Manoeuvres

As the practical driving test celebrates its 80th birthday, the DVSA wants to change the format of the current test to better assess learner drivers on their ability to drive independently on busy, modern roads; rather than focussing on ‘manufactured manoeuvres’ such as a driver’s ability to turn the car around in a back street.

As yet there’s no change announced for to those preparing for their HGV license, although no doubt examiners will be on the watch to see how successful the new driving test would be before deciding to roll it out to other classes.

So what’s different?

One of the changes include ‘show me’ and ‘tell me’ questions that will be asked while the vehicle is in use on the road to access the driver’s ability to operate the vehicle’s controls safely while driving.

The trials will also look at increasing the duration of independent driving from ten minutes to twenty minutes; with the added use of a satellite navigation system (operated by the test instructor) that will be used during the trial test.

There will also be a change made to some of the test’s classic manoeuvres.  Instead of being asked to turn in the road, reverse around a corner or reverse park (either into a parking bay, or parallel parking at the side of the road) the DVSA is now asking for drivers to “Drive into and reverse out of a parking bay, pull up on the right, reverse, and rejoin the traffic or reverse parking (either into a parking bay, or parallel parking at the side of the road)”.

There is also some good news for those trialling the test.  For the learner drivers that take part in the trial driving test, if they are successful they will obtain a full UK driving license as the test being used in the research is an actual driving licence acquisition test.

The changes are designed to help new drivers and make them better prepared for modern roads and modern driving conditions.  As a further element to this, the DVSA will be introducing the use of satnav during the test and excluding manoeuvres that new drivers will rarely use like the ‘3 point turn in the road’.  This will leave more time for learners to show their abilities of driving independently and confidently – skills that will be essential to them when they pass their test.

So are you in favour of ditching the dreaded ‘turn in the road’ for more independent driving during a test?  Let us know in the comments!

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DRIVERS DIRECT JOINS LEADING INDUSTRY BODY

Drivers Direct has been appointed as a corporate member of the Chartered Institute of Logistics & Transport (CILT).  In a prestigious ceremony, more than 100 representatives from 57 companies gathered at the Kettering Park Hotel to receive their commemorative plaque for 2015-2016.

In a separate announcement, Gethin Roberts, founder and managing director of Drivers Direct, was appointed as a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Logistics & Transport.  The appointments are in recognition of the role that Drivers Direct, and the recently launched logistics division, plays in the industry.

The event included members from across the profession, including those from the financial sector, leading universities and the biggest names in logistics and transport.

Kevin Richardson FCILT, Chief Executive, CILT, said: ‘The corporate side of CILT is significant to us. We believe that having corporate members enables us to interact with organisations and members in a way that our individual membership doesn’t allow.  Getting a group like this together and having companies such as Drivers Direct as members makes us a very strong organisation.’

Gethin Roberts, managing director of Drivers Direct, adds: “We’re proud to now be part of CILT and look forward to helping influence the shape of the industry.  Our industry still faces many challenges; the driver shortage, skills gaps and attracting a diverse workforce however by working within CILT we hope to to play our part on addressing these issues and sharing best practice.’

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BACKING THE BEST TO CHALLENGE CUP SUCCESS

New Farington House has been crowned Challenge Cup winners after victory over rivals New Longton Rovers in a thrilling match held at the Sir Tom Finney Stadium, Bamber Bridge.  The New Farington House team, whose club is sponsored by Drivers Direct, came from 3-1 down to take the trophy after a pulsating match.

After a challenging first half, New Farington House pulled themselves back into the game with a well struck shot from Zack Wilkes early in the second half.  Minutes later Dylan Agnew levelled the scores at 3-3 and almost immediately from the restart a beautifully lofted ball into the area was headed home by Adam Smith to make the score 4-3 and to take the Challenge Cup home to Centurion Way, Leyland.

Gethin Roberts, managing director of Drivers Direct, comments: “A fantastic result for Farry House who showed real grit and determination to come from behind to win the cup.  As a local employer and with employees involved in the team, we’re proud to be sponsors of the club and to have helped them in some way to achieve such great successes this season.”

League President Dave Carlisle presented the Cup and souvenir medals to the teams on behalf of the sponsors the Syndicate Trust.

New Farington House Football Club are an FA Charter Standard Club that Play in the Lancashire Sunday Football League, playing in the Premier Division.  Known locally as Farry House, the squad is managed by Stephen Broomhead and includes Graeme Conroy who is club secretary and a Drivers Direct employee.

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TACKLING DRIVER SHORTAGES

For a number of years now the UK’s haulage industry has seen a steady decline in the number of HGV drivers available, with those retiring or pursuing alternative careers outnumbering those entering the industry.

Additionally, of those who have a career in the industry, the average age is currently 53 with only two percent of drivers under 25. These statistics highlight the need to attract new talent to the industry in order to keep the natural progression within the workforce running smoothly.

It’s clear that many young employees who may have traditionally chosen the haulage and logistics industry aren’t now doing so. Some of the off putting elements are the industry’s associations with lifting and moving objects as well as a lack of a metaphorical job ladder to climb. Once these are combined with the negative press surrounding the industry’s high work rates due to driver shortages, there is a clear hurdle to be overcome.

The good news is that action is now being taken to tackle these issues, however attracting new talent isn’t easy. HGV licence applications have dropped by more than 32,000 in the past five years which can be accredited to several reasons, including: the cost of licence acquisition, lack of understanding of the industry and poor industry image.

We believe there is a need to better highlight the benefits of working in an industry that is so crucial to the UK economy. The Road Haulage Association (RHA), Freight Transport Association (FTA), The Chartered Institute of logistics and transport and the Government have all acknowledged the issues and initiatives are now being put in place to tackle the problem.

All have similarly pledged to campaign for changes to help combat the shortage: including, funding for vocational training, better driver facilities, quicker turnaround of medical queries by the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency and a campaign to raise awareness of the logistics sector.

Alongside this The Recruitment & Employment Federation (REC) have also spoken out on the issue. The REC have highlighted the impact that a driver shortage is having on the productivity of the UK economy; the importance of the recruitment industry in solving driver shortages; and called on the government to take urgent action in regards to those issues raised above.

With a concerted effort by all relevant bodies to tackle the apparent issues it is hoped the HGV driver shortage can be effectively and efficiently managed and be kept from bringing many industries that rely on the deliveries to a literal grinding halt.

For our own part, we are in support of the actions taken by the industry bodies and are also working on a programme of attracting more people to the sector.   This ranges from raising the industry profile at a local branch level, to attending and recruiting at popular events such as Truckfest.  We are also working with organisations such as the armed forces, whose personnel share many of the common skill sets needed in drivers such as being organised, punctual and responsible.

With a cohesive and positive approach we’re confident the industry will once again attract the right people to help it continue to deliver on its customer’s promises.

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