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From the Front Lines to The Cab

From the Front Lines to The Cab

There’s no doubt that leaving the UK’s Armed Forces can be a daunting prospect, regardless of how long you’ve served.  Moving from the structured lifestyle of the forces to the quieter life as a civilian is a huge life-changing event and the rate of each individual’s transition varies depending on their experiences.  With this in mind, it should be remembered throughout this post that no two ex-service personnel are the same.

Here at Drivers Direct, we feel very passionately about helping ex-servicemen and women back into civilian life.  With our MD Gethin Roberts being an ex-serviceman himself, we understand that it can be difficult to get used to normal everyday life again.  Last year we were proud to raise £2,500 for the Victory Services Club in London following our annual employee black-tie ball.  We’re very supportive of the work they do as they aid both serving and ex-service personnel and their families.

Service personnel possess a great wealth of skills and a second-to-none work ethos that is truly unique.  Their skills can be so specialised that they may feel they have the wrong qualifications to work in a civilian role – but this isn’t the case!

In the Armed Forces, there’s a real sense of camaraderie and family where you’ll spend each day with the same people – leaving that behind can seem strange.  Not having the same weight of responsibility put upon yourself each day will also appear to be a strange concept, but our company prides itself in helping ex-service personnel into the professional driving industry.  As we recruit for temporary and flexible driving positions, we’re a great avenue for slowly introducing yourself back into the world of civilian work; and you could even find your new career.

Currently in the UK the logistics and delivery sector are experiencing a driver shortage which is in vital need of a solution and with Brexit drawing closer, this shortage has been predicted to worsen.

Being a professional driver for Drivers Direct brings many perks, offering a flexible lifestyle and the option to pick the jobs you want to do.  You’ll also have the chance to travel around the country, and meet fellow drivers and Logistics personnel. As a Logistics professional you’ll have your managers and fellow drivers and people you meet on the road to interact with, but you’ll always have your own personal space in your own cab.

To find out more how Drivers Direct can help you transition from the Armed Forces into a professional driver career, please get in touch with us.

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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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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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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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