Category : Drivers

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Hands Free or Not Hands Free?

Since December 2003, it has been illegal to drive in the UK while using a hand held phone.  However, hands-free devices weren’t included in the ban.

But legal experts are now warning fleets and their drivers that they could fall foul of the law if they are involved in a collision, even while using a hands-free phone.

The warning comes in the wake of new research (by Brake and Direct Line) that shows hands-free use has increased from 22% in 2006 to 38% today.

Although many drivers believe that using a hands-free device is legal, unfortunately the law is not that simple.  If a driver is involved in a collision while using a hands-free device, they may still be open to prosecution for not being in proper control of the vehicle, or even for dangerous or careless driving.

More so, even if an employee uses a mobile device with a hands-free kit, there is a risk of prosecution to the employer if the police can prove that employees were pressured to use devices to the extent that they become distracted by calls or other interactive communications.

Research by TRL found driver reaction times to be 30% slower while using a hands-free phone than driving with a blood alcohol level of 80mg alcohol per 100ml blood (the UK limit), and nearly 50% slower than driving under normal conditions.

The report goes on to suggest that people are four times more likely to be involved in an accident whilst using a mobile phone, whether hands-free or not.

Despite a lack of support for a total ban amongst fleets, more than 60% of respondents in a survey acknowledged that the use of a hands-free device while driving does distract drivers, with one in five (21.4%) agreeing that they contribute to serious accidents.

The bottom line is that the safest course for employers might be to instruct employees not to use a mobile device for any interactive function while driving.

At Drivers Direct, we make it our business to know the law inside out when it comes to driving.  By reading and understanding the small print, we ensure all our drivers are highly trained and aware of the rules and regulations applicable to them.

So for peace of mind and a guaranteed supply of legally compliant drivers, contact Drivers Direct today.


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Keeping Britain’s Roads Moving

Although amongst the safest in Europe, Britain’s roads are also the busiest and most congested.  So the news that a whopping £24 billion has been ring fenced to create a high performing road network in England that’s fit for the 21st century and beyond is most welcomed.

In the biggest investment since the 1970s, this represents a tripling of investment in England’s major roads to over £3 billion a year up to 2021, and is a giant step towards delivering a safer and more sustainable road network.

The improvements will see the construction of 962 miles of new roads to help deal with the projected 43% increase in traffic over the coming decades, as well as easing congestion at some of the most notorious and long-standing traffic hotspots on England’s roads. £9 billion of the total will be spent on the maintenance of existing roads, of which £6 billion will be spent on resurfacing 3,000 miles of roads.

So far, the Government has committed to 60 new road schemes, the majority of which should be completed by 2021, with the extra capacity being achieved mainly by the use of smart motorways and selective widening.  However, it’s expected that the scope of the project will be extended further following the 2014 Autumn Statement.

With more than 700 drivers now on our books, we’re always on hand to support clients and ensure that they have access to a pool of qualified drivers available to deliver on their promises.  Now with a schedule of developments lined up to improve the quantity and quality of our roads, businesses and drivers can see this as the green light that’s needed to help get Britain’s roads moving.

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Driving In New Regulations

As the industry continues to acquire more and more regulations, qualifying to drive trucks has a new hurdle to overcome with the requirement for drivers to achieve a Certificate of Professional Competence (CPC) certification.

Enforced by a European Union directive, the new Driver CPC qualification aims to increase safety on the roads by ensuring drivers are better trained and up to date with current legislation.  To achieve this, professional drivers now need to maintain their skills at the highest level by attending 35 hours of periodic training every five years.

Anyone who drives heavy-duty lorries, buses or coaches for a living needs the Driver CPC certification alongside their vocational licence to remain legally compliant, and employers can’t legally take on any driver who doesn’t possess the Driver CPC.  Furthermore, employers need to ensure that their drivers renew their qualification every five years.

New drivers get Driver CPC as part of their HGV training but existing drivers will need to complete their 35 hours of periodic training by the 10th September deadline to remain compliant.  The fine for driving professionally without a certificate can incur fines up to £1000.

To add to the mix, the restrictions and requirements are different for various drivers, depending on when they gained their licence and there are also some exceptions for certain drivers.  As with every new piece of legislation, confusion and a change in practices are almost always inevitable.

With more than 700 of our drivers on the road each week, we’ve been quick to ensure that all our drivers conform to any existing or new legislation and are trained to the highest degree to be legally compliant and ready for the road.

Working with the FTA, and by being ahead of the game, we’re able to support clients during the transition and in doing so hope to lift the burden that comes with increasing regulation off our clients’ shoulders.

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