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HGV Drivers: the Beating Heart of the UK Economy

HGV Drivers: the Beating Heart of the UK Economy

 

Could you imagine life without next day delivery? Logistics and professional drivers are the beating heart of the UK economy. According to the FTA, over 90% of everything the public eat, drink, wear and build with travels on an HGV at some point in the supply chain.

 

Logistics operators and HGV drivers are the heroes that keep our shops full, even whilst the industry faces a driver shortage and skills gap.  With Brexit looming, this is expected to worsen as restrictions will be put in place, affecting international workers in the UK.

 

In the 2019 Logistics Report, it was reported that 15% of HGV driver vacancies are not being filled because of a skills shortage; which poses the question: how much longer can we keep the hero status? With an ageing workforce and a lack of young entrants in the industry, it is now so important to change young people’s perceptions of a career in logistics. Stats from the FTA report that only 1% of HGV drivers are under the age of 25, with the average age of a driver being about 53 years old. In fact, 47% of all drivers are over 50 years of age.

 

Think Logistics, a volunteer-led programme sponsored by the FTA, promotes careers in logistics within schools and colleges.  They engage with students through workshops and presentations to explain what logistics is – also addressing any misconceptions about the sector.  Many kids have negative perceptions of the sector and this can have an adverse effect on attracting young people to logistics. However, we know that if the industry worked together, we could have more success highlighting the opportunities this sector has to offer.

 

The FTA has suggested the Government should reform the Apprenticeship Levy and replace it with a Training Levy – opening more doors for vocational training and workers, as well as ensuring the upskilling of the UK’s workforce.  At Drivers Direct, we fully support and are actively encouraging more young people into the industry – we provide training and assessments for our own drivers on behalf of our clients, as well as in-house training for other nationwide companies.

 

In schools there can be a cultured expectation and pressure on pupils to attend university -with a heavy focus on the importance of a degree.  However, there is not enough appreciation for the vocational subjects and professional driving jobs that have a hand in the success of the UK’s supply chain.  We feel the Government needs to use its voice and platform to raise awareness of the logistics industry.

 

It is vital now more than ever to have clarity on Brexit, to help EU HGV drivers who are facing uncertainty with their job positions in the UK.  If we want to continue to be the heroes that keep our shops full, we need to get young people interested in the industry whilst they are still at school and show them the career paths available to them aside from university.  We need to see a change in the statistics, so that we are no longer a part of an ageing workforce.

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Patience: The Greatest Value On The Road

Patience: The Greatest Value on the Road

There’s no doubt that the pressure of modern society leaves many of us feeling stressed and irritated on the road every now and then. Our internal training schemeprovides extensive health and safety knowledge for our professional drivers, including ensuring that they are patient, diligent, and respectful on the road.

 

Research from TyreShopper has indicated that aggressive driving is the biggest cause of traffic fatalities in the UK, patience really is the greatest value on the road.  In tense situations on the road, we advise drivers to take deep breaths, turn down music or to stop their vehicle at the next safe location. In our training scheme, we convey the message that all of our journeys on the road are of equal importance and that each vehicle simply wants to reach the destination as safely as possible.

 

In our March blog,we discussed how HGV drivers often come under fire in the media. In reality, the majority of people believe that HGVs are an integral part of the UK supply chain. 92% of 2,095 adults in a 2017 Volvo Trucks survey acknowledged the critical role HGVs play in the smooth-running of the UK’s supply chain. To combat negative perceptions for HGV drivers, we always suggestthat our professional drivers are given time to beable to plan their routes beforehand which also givesthem time before carrying out their driving duties.

 

Patience from fellow motorists is just as important too. Not only are HGV vehicles difficult to manoeuvre, but they also take considerably longer to brake than cars and many of the vehicles are capped at a 56 mile-an-hour speed limit.

 

The warm summer weather and the commencement of the school summer holidays will lead to heavy traffic at times, which means patience from all roads users is more important than ever. Whether it’s keeping distance from the vehicle in front, being extra vigilant to adhere to both permanent and temporary roads signs, or ensuring those in the driver’s seat are well hydrated in warm weather, a calm and patient approach will ensure the safety of all drivers, professional or otherwise, which will in turn support productivity in the supply chain.

 

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Drivers Direct Logistics

Professional Driving Careers: Changing Young People’s Perceptions

 

It’s no secret that the logistics industry has become increasingly concerned over the issue of a drivers shortage in the UK.  With an ageing workforce, a dependence on EU workers and a lack of new entrants, it’s created a cause for concern – with logistics the beating heart of the country, it’s incredibly important to change young people’s perceptions of working as a professional driver.  Changing attitudes towards a career in logistics will fill the skills gap and alleviate the pressures on the sector and current workers.

 

The Freight Transport Association(FTA) is in its third year of sponsorship of Think Logistics, a volunteer-led programme that promotes careers in logistics within schools and colleges.  It engages with students through workshops and presentations to explain what logistics is all about – whilst also clearing up any misconceptions about the sector.

 

It’s a great step in the right direction for leaders in the industry to use their connections to trigger change.  In 2016 and 2017, the FTA exhibited at the Skills Show in Birmingham, an event which is visited by over 80,000 students, teachers and parents.  Through their work with organisations like Think Logistics, the FTA has been able to connect with young people and circulate materials that paint a picture of the industry – using case studies and bespoke career brochures.  With poor sector image being one of the reasons for bypassing a logistics career, it’s really important to highlight all of the opportunities across the sector, as well as within HGV driving.

 

A professional driving career is rewarding with the opportunity to plan your hours to suit your lifestyle – of course as long as delivery targets are met and the DVSA guidelines are met.  It’s guaranteed that you’ll meet new people every day, certainly a far cry from the misconception that it’s a lonely career.  HGV driving also gives you the opportunity to travel up and down the country and see new places and you’ll still have consistent contact with other employees at your base.

 

In its campaign for changing young people’s perceptions, the FTA are suggesting the Government should reform the Apprenticeship Levy to replace with a Training Levy – opening more doors for vocational training and workers, as well as ensuring the upskilling of the UK’s workforce. There’s also been encouragement for the Government to allow businesses to have a freer rein over what skills they require from apprenticeships, which in turn will support internal training.  As part of its campaign, the FTA have also called for the Government to use its voice to raise awareness of the logistics industry for job prospects to further support the efforts of industry leaders.

 

At Drivers Direct, we fully support this move to encourage more young people into the industry.  We provide trainingand assessments for our own drivers on behalf of our clients as well as in-house training for prestigious transport companies nationwide.  If you know a young person considering a career in logistics, be sure to point them in the direction of Think Logistics’ website, which has a breakdown of the various positions within transport.  To our fellow friends in the industry, if we all continue to work together and raise the profile of a career in logistics, we can make a difference.

 

 

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Professional Drivers & Cyclists: Keeping a Harmonious Relationship

Professional Drivers & Cyclists: Keeping a Harmonious Relationship

It’s no secret that there’s an ongoing issue with the relationship between two-wheeled and four-wheeled road users.  The likelihood of this partnership showing any developments remains to be seen.  However, the main topic that cyclists and vehicle owners (especially professional drivers) can agree on, is the issue of road safety.  If cyclists and HGV drivers could sing from the same hymn sheet, this would be a step closer to keeping a harmonious relationship.  In order for this to work, it’s important for cyclists and professional drivers to stay vigilant and aware of who they’re sharing the road with.  We’ve put together some of the most important safety measures for both cyclists and vehicle users.

 

For a cyclist, a high level of concentration is needed on the road, not only is it important to look out for your surroundings but you need to make sure that you’re being seen too.  When it comes to anticipating a driver’s turning intentions, never second guess in the event that an indicator isn’t used – a prime situation for a collision.  On the subject of indicating, know your own signalling for the road is vital – from the right or left turn to showing that you’re slowing down with one arm slightly extended to the side with the palm facing down and raising your hand up and down at wrist height.  To signal that you’re stopping, use one arm extended vertically upwards with the palm facing forward.  To help you further communicate on the road, it’s absolutely vital to have and use a bell.  Whether you’re a serious cyclist or you use your bike casually from time to time, make sure to maintain your bike and have it looked over by a professional at least once a year.

 

For professional drivers and other motorists, it’s imperative to check your blind spots before pulling away from a fixed position.  Waiting to check all mirrors and your blind spot could be the difference between noticing a cyclist and a potential accident.  For HGVs, the driver is of course sitting higher up than a standard vehicle and, with this in mind, the blind spots are even more important to take note of.  Much like the cyclists, signalling your direction is vital – and the earlier the better to make other people aware to reduce any risks.

 

In an ideal world, if all roads users could accept that everyone has equal right to use our roads, this would make a considerable difference to the relationship between professional drivers and cyclists.

 

Do you have any thoughts on what we’ve discussed in our blog or any ideas on bridging the gap between different types of road users?  Tweet us: @DriversDirect!

 

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Media and Reality: Why is there such a discrepancy for HGVs?

Media and Reality: Why is there such a discrepancy for HGVs?

HGVs are covered a lot in the media but it’s no secret that the headlines are usually associated with bad news.  In these cases, it’s extremely unfortunate that a sweeping opinion is made of people that are simply doing their job.

Without the HGV drivers who work their hardest to deliver what we pick up in the supermarket or online shopping purchases with the added convenience of one-day delivery, our lives would be very different.  Even during the holiday season in December when the industry is up against a driver shortage, those drivers inside their cabs still work their hardest to deliver.

The media covers a multitude of HGV accidents and the blame is usually on the HGV driver (rightly or wrongly).  Perhaps with trucks being the bigger vehicle, this is where the blame originates, even in situations where the cause hasn’t been found yet.  In an article written by Transport Topics, just last year, it was reported that 80% of car-truck crashes are caused by car drivers however, truck drivers are still blamed.

In the media, it’s a familiar concept for stories to be written purely to stir up outcry.  There is plenty of discussion over how damaging this can be for a number of industries, as well as individuals.  With road accidents, often comes a “he said, she said” situation with eye witnesses describing differing accounts for what happened.  This is why more and more fleet managers are having vehicle cameras in trucks to use as evidence, if ever needed.  In-cab recordings are also becoming more and more popular, as they show clearly what a driver is doing at the time of an accident – making it easy to see they’re blameless and were fully concentrating.

Interestingly, in 2017 Volvo Trucks carried out a survey with the public to gauge attitudes towards lorries.  Out of the 2,095 adults quizzed, 92% said they recognised the role that HGVs play in the smooth-running of everyday life.  96% also said they understood that an HGV driver possesses significant skills and training.  Professionals drivers and their lorries are the beating heart of British trade, supporting the economy as they transport goods up and down the country.

From the perspective of other road users such as cyclists, there’s been a call for lorries in urban areas to be reduced and that goods should be transferred to smaller vehicles, when delivering in towns and city centres.  A valid idea but with this comes many more factors to take into account, for example the extra time and money needed to orchestrate it.

With the current driver shortage that the industry is facing, which is only to be exacerbated with Brexit pending, it’s important to realise just how much the country depends on HGVs.  Instead of reprimanding professional drivers as a whole, bad driving should be called out – consumer, mainstream media attention does not focus on the majority of excellent professional drivers on the road and the necessity to British trade and economy.  The mainstream media should balance out their reporting to make sure their readers can form a fair and balanced view of professional drivers.  If consumers only see multiple stories about bad driving, their feelings will be unfairly skewed.

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Drivers Direct: Christmas Traditions

Drivers Direct: Christmas Traditions

Christmas is just around the corner and we can’t believe how quickly the year has gone – it feels like just yesterday that we shared our year in review blog last December.

 

We’ve had an excellent year here at Drivers Direct, from being finalists in a number of business awards to having another successful annual charity ball.  The ball was the perfect opportunity to raise money £2500 for the NSPCC and we’re looking forward to presenting them with their donation at the beginning of 2019.

 

As our last blog post of 2018, we thought we’d take the opportunity to acknowledge someone else that works just as hard as Father Christmas at this time of year!  Our MD Gethin Roberts has made it a Christmas tradition to visit all 21 of our branches to personally deliver presents, including bottles of fizz and chocolates.

 

 

Gethin spends 2 weeks on the run up to Christmas, travelling from branch to branch to visit all of the teams.  He feels it is important for all the Drivers Direct employees to be able to put a name to a face, giving the business a personal feel which might not necessarily be given in a company as large as Drivers Direct.  As Managing Director, Gethin puts a lot of effort into boosting morale and creating the feeling of truly being a part of a team for all employees.

Drivers Direct: Christmas Traditions

 

We give a lot of credence to our mission statement: ‘By offering the experience, quality awareness and support of a big company with the flexibility, innovation and personal touch of a small company we will supply all our clients with the best of both worlds’

 

Our mission statement is also applicable to our employees, as we strive to give them plenty of opportunity within their career and the support of a big company, whilst also offering the personal touch of a small company.  This is something that Gethin upholds as he travels up and down the country every Christmas time without fail.  For Drivers Direct it’s all about making our employees feel valued and appreciated and what better time to do that than at Christmas?

 

A very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to one and all from Drivers Direct.

 

 

 

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Road Safety Awareness Week: Bike Smart

Road Safety Awareness Week: Bike Smart

 

Road Safety Awareness Week (19th – 25th November) is the UK’s biggest road safety event, coordinated by the road safety charity, Brake.  Last year the theme was ‘Speed Down Save Lives’ and in our blog we discussed the startling facts behind the campaign.

 

With more than a third of cyclists and motorcyclists killed or seriously injured on UK roads, Brake have selected the ‘Bike Smart’ campaign to help raise awareness. The charity will be shouting about the safety of road users on two wheels and they have put together some facts on why their theme is so important:

  • In 2016 there were 18,477 cyclist casualties and 19,297 motorcyclist casualties
  • More people are cycling so there is a greater need to protect them with a safe systems approach
  • Motorcyclists are 38 times more likely to be killed in a crash than car occupants per mile ridden
  • Motorcyclists comprise the largest proportion (25%) of road crash admissions to trauma centres

It goes without saying that cyclists and motorcyclists are the most vulnerable road users and with 100 riders injured every day in the UK, Brake feel this is an area of road safety that needs attention – we couldn’t agree more.

Cycling is becoming more and more popular as it’s the most environmentally-friendly form of transport.  But as more and more cyclists take to the road, it’s important to be aware of them.

 

Motorcyclists can travel at similar speeds to cars, however they don’t have equal protection to that of a vehicle in the case of a crash.  There are no air bags or any safety measures in place, leaving them exposed to the full force of an accident.  Awareness is crucial for making changes and saving lives in the UK. The campaign is not only calling on vehicle users to be aware but also for cyclists and motorcyclists to be Bike Smart themselves through safe riding behaviours and appropriate training and/or equipment.  If everyone works together, positive change can happen and the statistics for bike accidents on UK roads can be dramatically reduced.

 

Absolutely anyone can get involved with Road Safety Awareness week, from making a donation to even tweeting about it using the hashtags ‘#bikesmart’ or ‘#roadsafetyweek’.  No matter the form of contribution, you’re still raising awareness.

 

Here at Drivers Direct, we admire the work that Brake do every year.  Road safety is important to us and that’s why we ensure that all of our drivers receive the appropriate training.

 

 

 

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Drivers Direct on: Charity of the Year

Drivers Direct on: Charity of the Year

Every year we select our charity of the year, it’s a decision that is given careful consideration as all our employees throughout our 21 branches can offer their nominations for a worthy cause.  Having supported the Victory Services Club in 2017, this year we chose the NSPCC, whose excellent work is nationally recognised.

 

Our main fundraising came from our annual charity ball, with every attendee making a donation and we held a raffle to help raise further funds.  £1,000 was raised from the night alone which was then generously Increased to £2,500 by our Managing Director, Gethin Roberts.

 

NSPCC stands for the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children and protecting children is their sole purpose.  As an independent organisation, they rely on the public to fund their work.

 

NSPCC fundraising manager Janette Drew commented on being selected as our Charity of the Year: “We’re thrilled to have been selected as Drivers Directs Charity of the Year and would like to thank the staff who nominated us showing their support for our work for vulnerable children. Every penny raised for us helps us be there for children when the need us the most, whether it’s through Childline’s around the clock service, teaching children to stay safe through our schools service, or receiving support from our centres.”

 

The NSPCC focuses on a number of aspects of child protection, from support for new parents and babies, to working with mobile brand O2 to make families safer online by delivering online safety workshops to parents and offering advice.  The charity also offers support to victims of abuse who are giving evidence in court, campaigning for a better system for child witnesses.

 

The organisation also provides the secretariat for the All Party Parliamentary Group for Abused and Neglected Children (APPG) – this is a crossbench groups of MPs and Peers and their sole purpose is to raise the profile of child abuse and neglect in parliament.  The meetings are held in Westminster and involve inquiries with professionals, academics and frontline staff to focus on the key issues of child protection, as well as investigating policies and upcoming areas of legislation.  In 2016, the APPG held an inquiry on therapeutic support for children, focusing on the mental health of children in care and the best practices for delivering support.

 

We’re so proud to have picked the NSPCC as our charity of the year, they carry out their work in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.  We admire the work they do and how they make it their one mission to protect children the children of the UK.  It is certainly a worthy cause that we wanted to get involved with, as the organisation are essentially supporting the children of the future.  If you would like to find out more on how you can support this great cause in your country, you can visit their website.

 

 

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Professional Drivers & Cyclists: Keeping a Harmonious Relationship

Drivers Direct on: The Value of Quality Drivers

There is no denying that logistics and professional drivers are the beating heart of the UK economy – as the FTA’s Peter Snelling so aptly put it: “Over 90% of everything the public eat, drink, wear and build with travels on an HGV at some point in the supply chain.” Such a figure throws a sharp focus on our industry, and highlights the value of quality professional drivers – who can sometimes be overlooked by the public eye.

 

With the ever-increasing popularity of online shopping and at-home deliveries, the looming threat of Brexit and its effect on a driving skills’ shortage which we discussed at length last month, the need for our professional drivers to be highly trained with efficiency, reliability and integrity has never been higher.

 

And it’s not just the technicalities of the economic climate and consumer shift to e-commerce which places a strong need for an increase in the numbers of highly-skilled professional drivers. As mentioned at the beginning of this post, the value of quality drivers is often overlooked: the ‘behind the scenes’ part of the supply chain rarely acknowledged by the end user. However, whenever professional driving – in particular, HGVs – are acknowledged, there seems to be a worrying pattern: type in ‘HGV’ or ‘lorry’ into Google News and you’ll be greeted with plethora of negativity – vehicle collisions, cyclist accidents and poor driver behaviour.

 

When professional drivers are ‘behind the scenes’, the majority of the public’s knowledge and, therefore, opinions of HGV drivers comes from the media. So, when the majority of the mainstream consumer media’s stories about HGV drivers only focuses on the minority of poor drivers’ actions, the public’s opinion is going to be skewed.

 

Whilst there is little we can do to persuade the media to present a more balanced view when ‘disaster stories’ bring in online clicks and revenue, it does present an even more important need for professional drivers to be of the highest quality with proper training and qualifications – we must ensure that through our work every day on Britain’s roads, we are showing that the majority of drivers are safe, conscientious and respectful as they work as the major player in an efficient supply chain to ensure businesses across Britain can continue to thrive.

 

There’s little point in simply discussing the importance of high-quality drivers – we must ensure it is actioned. Which is why we’re incredibly proud of Drivers Direct Training, our own internal scheme. We provide both training and assessments for our own drivers on behalf of our clients, or in-house for companies with their own fleet of drivers. With classroom-based driver development courses we can help you or your drivers progress and improve – offering courses covering basic health and safety and heathy eating, right the way through to driver security, customer care, and fuel efficiency.

 

Training is something businesses must invest in – not only will it help to build the reputation of the logistics and transport industry, but provides significant peace of mind and ROI knowing that the drivers you employ are of the highest quality, working on the roads with honesty and autonomous motivation for your business’ needs.

 

If you’d like to learn more about Drivers Direct Training, and how our trained drivers can deliver the best results for your business, get in touch with our team today.

 

 

 

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How to Get Your Foot on the Logistics Career Ladder

The thought of a career change is a prospect which is exhilarating and daunting in equal measure. The endless opportunities and the chance to completely change your day to day activities is an incredibly exciting thought, but then the question must be asked: how do I even start a new career?

For those thinking about switching lanes (pun very much intended) and making the move into a career as a professional driver, we have a simple message: you’ll be choosing a rewarding career, and help is out there to make this a reality.

Now, as a professional driving recruitment firm, of course we’ll say it’s a rewarding career – but here’s why. Working in the logistics and transport sector can mean flexible hours – ideal for those looking to start a family. The industry is one where you’re always supported by a dedicated team and build strong relationships, but the ability to travel the country has a sense of autonomy. Then there’s the salary benefits – the supply chain is an industry the country simply cannot function without, and of course a career in logistics can lead to opportunities in management and running your own fleet.

The first thing to consider when thinking about becoming a professional driver is whether you have the characteristics to suit the work. You must enjoy driving, employ patience, possess a strong knowledge and respect of road safety, enjoy your own company, display strong self-motivation and be in good physical condition.

There’s more to the job than sitting behind the wheel though, you’ll likely plan delivery schedules and routes with transport managers, monitor traffic reports to make sure your routes are clear, as well as carrying out general maintenance checks on your vehicle before and after journeys.

To become a professional driver, youmust be 18 years old or over and hold a full car driving license.  The next stage would be to find a reputable local LGV learner driver training provider, take & pass your test and then receive CPC Training, here at Drivers Direct we’re a JAUPT accredited CPC Training Centre – as we said, the help is here.  We offer training to our own drivers on behalf of our clients, as well as in-house training for prestigious transport companies.  Via our website, we also offer a free digital tachograph simulator download which includes interactive tutorials which will take you through the different types of tacho machines.

In terms of working hours, they could vary but in a permanent position you can be expected to work up to 42 hours a week and overtime may be available, but the laws are strict (for good reason) on the number of hours spent driving and working in between rest breaks to ensure the safety of all road users.

We have a wide network of branches throughout the UK, offering vacancies for all classes of driver, you can view the positions here.  We operate within a wide range of sectors including postal, food production, DIY, building trade, general haulage and clothing distribution.  If you’re looking to hit certain requirements, as a customer of Drivers Direct, we can help you do that – why not get in touch and see what we can offer to your business to reach its goals?

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