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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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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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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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