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Congestion In The UK…

Earlier this month the UK climbed one place to become the fifth most congested country in Europe, with the average driver spending 30 hours in congestion every year. The increase in traffic on roads has now been directly linked to how well UK PLC is performing.

Last year the UK economy grew by 2.8%, which was faster than any other major developed European country and double the European average. Also, due to the economy recovering, levels of unemployment also decreased last year by 21%.

The increase in consumer spending has led to a rise in private and commercial vehicles as well as more people commuting to work by car. This combined with a spurring of national road works and construction campaigns has led to a growth in congestion.

Furthermore, population growth and urbanisation are key drivers to an increase in congestions and last year the UK’s population grew by 491,100, reaching a record high. London was one of the worst affected areas, with residents being stuck in traffic for an average of 96 hours – that’s the equivalent to nine working days stuck in traffic!

The A217, a 10 mile stretch of road in London, was named the busiest road for congestion, however, congestion as a whole increased in 77% of the UK’s cities with Manchester closely following London for the worst traffic in the UK.

Garrett Emmerson, TFL (Transport for London) London’s Chief Operations Office commented on the congestion within London and stated: “We are seeing unprecedented increases in population and this, combined with strong economic growth creates more traffic. That’s why we invest every penny in improving the capital’s transport network, including an unprecedented £4 billion pounds over the next few years to transform junctions, bridges, tunnels, cycling lanes and pedestrian areas.”

Other authorities have announced they will trial stricter traffic control measures in a bid to tackle congestion as well as lower air pollution in the UK’s most congested cities.

Recognising the UK has a congestion problem can only be a good thing, especially when authorities are taking measure to rectify the situation. As a driving agency it is not uncommon for our drivers to come across traffic. Let’s just hope that by this time next year we won’t be that one step closer to becoming the most congested country in Europe.

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Hang up on social driving…

In a technology driven world, it’s no surprise that there are more than 83.1 million mobile phones in the UK. Phones have become integral in our everyday routine, using them for work, rest and play. However, as mobile phones become more mainstream, they now present serious danger on the road as some UK drivers continue to use their phone behind the wheel.

Since 2003, using hand-held phones whilst driving has been illegal, which includes periods of queueing in traffic or at traffic lights. Similarly, they cannot be used when supervising a learner driver. However, all drivers should be aware that if there is an emergency and it is unsafe or impractical to stop, drivers may use their phone to dial 999 – this is the only exception to the rules.

You may think the penalty of breaking these rules would be enough to deter drivers – a maximum fine of £1000 or £2500 for drivers of buses and good vehicles, would go a long way towards their phone bill, not to mention at least three points marked on your license.

However, figures from a 2012 survey conducted by the Department for Transport found that 378 accidents reported that year involved a mobile phone, resulting in a horrific 548 casualties, 17 of them fatal. Motoring experts now believe that mobile phone use is now the biggest cause of death on UK roads.

Despite these harrowing facts and figures, a disturbing new trend has emerged, taking over social media with the hashtag #DrivingSelfie. A recent survey found that out of 500 drivers questioned, 1 in 5 admitted to taking selfies while on the road. Even more shockingly, one in 12 admitted to using Skype or FaceTime to video call whilst behind the wheel, while another 7 per cent admitted to watching TV during their journey.

After conducting a survey which found 70% of young drivers consider texting acceptable when pulled over with the engine running, The AA has pledged to help tackle the nationwide problem by working alongside driving instructors. With pressure mounting to increase the penalty fines, the motor specialists are aiming to spread the safety message, by ensuring that lessons for future learners have a prominent focus on mobile phone usage, highlighting the ‘do’s and don’ts’ of the law.

Here at Drivers Direct, our driver’s safety is our priority. As using a mobile phone behind the wheel can affect every road user and has serious consequences, our training and recruitment ensures that all our drivers know and follow the law. With this in place we can provide a safe and effective service, safe in the knowledge that our drivers know that the solution is simple: don’t use your phone behind the wheel.

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UK Motorists Experience License Shake Up In New Regulations

With less than a month to go before the paper license is scrapped, UK drivers are becoming increasingly concerned with the changes. As part of a major regulation shakeup from the DVLA, the paper license counterpart will no longer be valid or hold any legal status from the 8th June, which may cause problems for Brits trying to hire a car abroad.

The DVLA recently changed their objectives to simplify their policies whilst also promising to commit to a ‘seamless, digital and physical service that exceeds expectations and attracts people to more cost-effective channels’. A Government spokesperson described the move from paper to an online system as ‘reducing the burden on motorists’, as the information will now be more accessible motorists.

This may seem like a simple movement but there is confusion as some paper licenses are exempt from the new rules. Paper documents issued before 1998 will still be valid as the photo card had not been introduced by this point and drivers who hold these are being urged not to destroy them.

With the summer holiday period fast approaching, motorists affected by the change are now worried they could face difficulties when hiring a car abroad, as foreign firms may be unaware of the changes and may expect to see both parts of the license.

Holidaymakers will now be required to log onto the DVLA website the day before they jet-set and enter their license number to obtain a code to give the car hire company on arrival. As easy as this sounds, there may be some complications. Once registered, the passcode is only valid for 72 hours, making it difficult for holiday-goers to hire a car for an in prompt road trip.

This is not the only change the DVLA has recently issued. Last year the paper tax disc was abolished and transferred to an online system, causing confusion for those wanting to sell their car with existing tax.

The changes have left UK motorists struggling to keep up with the latest rules which has consequently resulted in fines and clamped vehicles. However, the new system, once settled should provide an effective service to drivers. With less paper to worry about and the documents easily accessible online, the new changes have the potential to benefit all motorists.

At Drivers Direct we ensure that all our regulations are up to date so that we can continue to work effectively and efficiently. It is our priority to provide a service to our employees that follows all legal obligations so that our drivers can enjoy their work legally and safely.

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Driving On The Most Dangerous UK Roads

For the majority of us, driving is an everyday necessity or even a fundamental part of a career. However, you may be shocked to learn a quiet rural road in Wales is considered the most dangerous road in the UK, surprising many locals who regularly use it.

Research suggests Carmarthen East and Dinefwr in Wales have the most dangerous roads in the UK as they have the highest fatality and injury rates across the UK in relation to the population. In 2014 alone, the county of Carmarthenshire saw 89 serious injuries and 519 minor injuries from motor accidents, but what makes this road more fatal and accident prone than any other?

The safety of a road is largely affected by its location. Many people believe motorways to be the most dangerous travel route due to the high speed and the number of motorists using them on a daily basis. When an accident does occur, it affects more people and often gains media coverage, giving the illusion that they are exceptionally dangerous. However, motorways are actually the safest road type and report the lowest number of accidents. The speed limit may be higher than other roads, but it is consistent and sees everyone travelling at the same or similar speeds, on long stretches of roads with fewer bends and a much safer system for overtaking.

Rural areas tend to have a much higher accident occurrence rate for a number of reasons. There are fewer safety regulations in place and speed limits are often d-restricted. On rural routes drivers are much more likely to come across potential hazards. The narrow winding path of the roads does not always accommodate enough room for two cars to pass one another and the restricted vision of the road ahead can often prevent motorists from overtaking larger, slower vehicles, such as tractors and trailers.

In general the quality of the road is poorer than that of a motorway or urban road. Back roads are notorious for potholes and poor maintenance despite experiencing significant numbers of traffic passing through on a daily basis.

A report from 2010 found that over the course of the year, 1,043 people were involved in a fatal accident on rural roads in comparison to 113 on the motorway.

However, don’t let these facts and figures deter you from using them, a road can become much safer if you adapt your driving to suit the familiarity, location and potential hazards.

Whilst there are many dangerous roads across the UK, there is of course, a safest road.

The safest UK road is reported to be in Bath; drivers have half the rate of serious road accidents in comparison with the national average. At 51% lower, Bath’s rate of serious road incidents was the lowest across all of the UK.

Certain measurements can be taken to ensure you have a safe driving experience. As a driver recruitment agency, we would advise all drivers to leave plenty of time for a journey and to be aware of road surroundings. We ensure that all of our drivers undergo correct and intensive training to maintain a high quality of driving, helping to make the roads safer.



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HGV Drivers Push For Government Funding

With the election just months away, the recent budget was largely anticipated by many in the driving sector. Driver shortages have been well documented and with a growing demand amongst the freight industry, we are keen to see the Government’s support to help alleviate the issue.

The figures speak for themselves as in this year alone, it is now expected that there will be a demand for approximately 45,000-60,000 professionals drivers to supply goods across the country.

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 could 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.

To help reduce this pressure, the Road Haulage Association and the Freight Transport Association are pushing for the Government to offer funding that will provide training for a new generation of HGV drivers, with a specific focus on getting more women into the industry.

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 work with hundreds of clients across the UK to supply qualified drivers to meet their needs. As the freight industry continues to develop and the pressure on deliveries continues, we intend to continue to supply the best drivers, and provide training through our 21 branches. HGV driving can be rewarding and enjoyable career choice with the right training and support.

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Understanding your Digital Tachograph

Almost 20% of all road traffic accidents are sleep related, many of them occurring on high speed roads. When tired, driving ability decreases dramatically; reaction time slows and judgement becomes blurred.

Despite this, figures have shown shocking statistics; 37% of people who use cars, vans or lorries have admitted to driving when tired and 10% who use their vehicles for work have admitted to falling asleep at the wheel.

HGV vehicle drivers are often required to work during unsocial hours, making the risk of fatigue greater. As a result the Government has enforced laws in a bid to protect both HGV drivers and other road users with the hope of decreasing the number of road accidents each year.

The laws established restrict the number of hours a driver can complete without taking a break, so now for every 4.5 hours driven, it is compulsory for the driver to rest for 45 minutes before continuing the journey. The total hours of driving each day is capped to 9 hours, with the fortnightly limit standing at 90 hours.

In 2006, it became compulsory for all commercial vehicles to be fitted with a digital tachograph. A tachograph is used to record information about the driver’s time, speed and distance. They’re used as a measuring device to ensure that drivers and employers follow the government procedures regarding drivers’ working hours. A tachograph will store 365 day’s worth of information that is downloaded on a monthly basis and stored for future reference. It is the size of a radio and has its own memory storage, designed to work in conjunction with a digital tachograph smart card.

A digital tachograph system consists of a sender unit mounted to the vehicle gearbox, the tachograph head and the digital driver card. The sender unit will emit electronic pulses as a reaction to the gearbox output turning. These pulses are accessed as speed data by the tachograph head.

There is a range of modes which detect the driver’s activity as well as speed. ‘Drive Mode’ is automatically activated whenever the vehicle is moving and a ‘rest’ and ‘availability’ mode can be manually selected. Drivers are legally required to accurately record their activities and retain records and produce them as required.

Here at Drivers Direct, it’s compulsory for all our drivers to follow the Government laws, as they are designed to optimise the safety of everyone on the road. All of our vehicles follow protocol and we urge all drivers to be aware of the drivers’ hours rules and to use the Digital Tachograph within the vehicle correctly when driving to make every driving experience safe and enjoyable.

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Driving In Bad Weather Is Not Snow Joke

As temperatures drop across the country and snow warnings flood the daily news, now couldn’t be a better time to ensure your vehicle is set for winter driving.

Although there tends to be a fall in road accidents during bad weather conditions, due to fewer motorists using the roads, the Department for Transport reported 4,584 road accidents where someone was injured during snow or ice on the road surface last year.

As one of the UK’s leading driving recruitment agencies, Drivers Direct would like to share a few handy tips for winter driving we’ve pick up along the years.

Winter is the time of year when most preparation is required to stay safe on the roads and avoid breakdowns. Before setting off on a journey, always ensure:

  • Lights are clean and working
  • The vehicle’s battery is working and fully charged
  • Check the tyre condition, including tread depth and pressure
  • Ensure there is enough screen-wash that is concentrated and suitable for cold conditions
  • Ensure you have enough anti-freeze

It’s important when driving in bad weather conditions to pack an emergency kit in your vehicle, should you beak down or get stuck in traffic. This includes:

  • Hazard warning light
  • De-icing equipment
  • A car blanket
  • Torch
  • Emergency rations (drink and a snack)

When driving in bad weather conditions, especially snow or ice, adapt your driving techniques for a safer drive to the following:

  • Reduce speed to lower the chances of skidding
  • Increase stopping distance
  • Avoid harsh breaking
  • Used dipped headlights if visibility is reduced
  • Slow down before bends and corners

When faced with tougher driving conditions, it’s crucial not to panic and remain safe. Our drivers safety is imperative when delivering a quality service to our clients.




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You Booze, You Lose


During the Christmas months, alcohol consumption in Britain increases by 40 per cent with 54 per cent of men and 41 per cent of women expected to drink over the recommended guidelines during the festive period.

Every year drink driving campaigns hit our TV screens, radios and catch our attention on the motorways to warn us of the dangers of drink driving. However, do drivers really understand what constitutes as ‘over the limit’?

It is a common misconception that one alcoholic drink is one unit, but with so many different drinks, sizes of glasses and bottles it is difficult to establish how many units are in a single drink.

Another misconception is the legal drink driving limit is two units of alcohol or less. However, the current law states consumers driving are legally allowed to drink 80 milligrammes of alcohol per 100millilitres of blood, 35 microgrammes per 100 millilitres of breath or 107milligrammes per 100 millilitres of urine. To put it simply one unit equals 10ml or 8g of pure alcohol, which is around the amount of alcohol the average adult can process in an hour.

What drivers really need to know is that, the legal drink driving limit is not as black as white as once thought. The legal limit depends on many variables, such as:

  • Weight
  • Gender (men tend to process alcohol faster than women)
  • Metabolism
  • ABV volume
  • Current stress levels
  • Last time food was consumed
  • Age (younger people tend to process alcohol more slowly)

From the above it is easy to be confused with what is classed as over the drink driving limit. Another factor drivers must consider is what happens the morning after.

After enjoying Christmas celebrations till the early hours of the morning, it is not uncommon for alcohol to stay in our system well into the following day. Therefore those who get in at the wee hours of the morning and start their day at 8 am could still have alcohol present in their blood system. In general, alcohol is removed from the blood at the rate of about one unit an hour, but again this varies from person to person.

Drink Driving affects peoples driving in many ways. The brain takes longer to process messages from the body, resulting in a slower reaction times. In 2012, 1,200 people were seriously injured when a driver was over the legal alcohol limit and as a result, 280 people were killed in drink driving accidents.

As one of the UK’s leading driver recruitment agencies we have a zero tolerance when it comes to drink driving, and as a result, we hope everyone has a safe and enjoyable Christmas.

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Driving in the UK has been somewhat under the ‘spotlight’ recently. There are many reasons for this, mainly due to the changes to CPC training, driverless cars and the abolishment of the tax disk. However, one up and coming change is set to have a big effect on not only professional drivers but also the ‘everyday’ driver.

The British Government has proposed a speed limit change for heavy good vehicles (HGV’s) over 7.5 tonnes on single track roads from 40 mph to 50 mph, with changes coming in to effect as early as January 2015. The decision was made after Claire Perry, Transport Minister, decided it was time to tackle congestion in the UK and keep the country moving whilst also reducing the risk of dangerous driving.

Recent statistics from the Department for Transport (DfT) highlighted motorists are 11 times more likely to have an accident on a rural road than on a motorway, even though country roads have significantly lower speed limits.

The government also plans to raise the speed limit for HGV’s on dual carriageways from 50 mph to 60 mph, therefore matching the legal limits for vans and buses.

The Road Haulage Association stated the decision by ministers was evidence based and will be strongly welcomed by hauliers and their drivers as the current speed limit is long out of date, can cause driver frustration and unnecessary road safety risks. But what are the other benefits?

As well as reducing driver frustration and iritic overtaking, the new changes are also set to benefit the haulage industry by £11 million of savings per year as well as other businesses receiving goods quicker.

Not only has the government looked into the speed limits but they are also investing £3.3 billion in major road schemes which will provide over 500 miles of additional lane capacity to the strategic road network. A second piece of work will see £10.7 billion allocated to add at least 400 miles of increased capacity on the busiest motorways.

The haulage industry is always adapting to cope with growing or new demands and these changes need to be reflected on the UK’s roads. The Government’s changes demonstrate this and although the changes may not be welcomed by everyone, they are all heading in the right direction.


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As we head into winter, it seems that the budget for improving road quality has been cut dramatically but how much will the realignment of budgets affect the quality and quantity of the essential road maintenance needed to keep our roads in good shape?

Research by the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has revealed that £1.2 billion has been cut from road maintenance budgets over the last four years, following a review of government spending in 2010.

It has also been suggested that the cuts have been made to better prepare the government for ‘unforeseen’ events, which can cover a range of scenarios from cold snaps through to the severe flooding we experienced in February 2014.

Since the cuts have come into place, an additional £1.1 billion has been spent to help manage nine separate ‘unforeseen events’ that have required urgent investment in order to help keep the roads open. Although critically important, this fluctuating expenditure has left councils less able to budget for the road maintenance needed in their local communities.

The poor state of British roads is costing businesses and the government alike; in the last two years alone, there have been compensation charges of £31m for damage to vehicles by potholes, even though to fix a pothole only costs around £50. The Department of Transport has responded by stating that they were ‘absolutely committed to tackling potholes on local roads’, yet there is public concern that still not enough is being done to maintain existing roads or on preventive strategies.

It’s not all bad news, we have also been promised 962 miles of new roads to cope with the significant increase in traffic that’s expected in years to come.  This will help alleviate pressure points or bottle necks on the road network.

With more than 700 of our commercial drivers out on the road each week, every day we see the importance of having roads effectively maintained to ensure not only the secure delivery of goods but the safety of our drivers and others.  Let’s hope this latest budget cut won’t lead to a winter of discontent for drivers.

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