Category : UK Roads

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Road Emissions: Practicalities vs Ideologies

Following the well-documented UN climate action summit in New York last month, climate change and tackling environmental issues have never been heralded such high a profile. One of the issues Governments throughout the globe are looking to work on is reducing road emissions.

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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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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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Drivers Direct MD Meets With Chris Grayling

Drivers Direct MD Meets With Chris Grayling

Our MD Gethin Roberts recently met with Chris Grayling, the Secretary of State Transport.  As a respected spokesperson within the industry, Gethin raised a number of subjects with Mr. Grayling to gain further knowledge on what is being done to support drivers, UK roads and the logistics sector as a whole.  The behind the scenes aspect of goods and products are often overlook, but professional drivers and our industry is the beating heart of the country.  This is why it’s so important to ensure the smooth-running of commercial road operations, whether it’s to do with road conditions, connectivity or opportunities for future drivers and the driver shortage.

 

Firstly, they discussed better ways that logistics companies could spend their apprenticeship levy in order to support the retention of drivers and assist with the driver shortage that is still very much a primary issue within the industry.  Gethin emphasised that a reduction in classroom-based training would be conducive for both companies and individuals who are looking to become professional drivers.  In place of this, more attention could be put on Licence Acquisition as it makes more sense for trainee HGV drivers to acquire more experience from inside a cab as opposed to inside a classroom.  Learning theory, is of course, important but putting it into practice straight away could add a stronger element of preparation for hauliers.

 

Roadworks on motorways were briefly touched on with Gethin enquiring about restrictions on the length and number of roadworks on any one motorway at any given time.  This was a point that Chris Grayling certainly agreed with, whilst being understanding that existing works would need to continue as planned.

 

As Gethin met with Chris at Crewe Train Station, they also discussed creating a dual carriageway between Crewe and Nantwich.  The A500 could be dualled from the M6 – J16 through to the first Crewe roundabout – creating better traffic flow.

 

The advantages of building a strong road infrastructure across the UK, East to West, are also recognised by Chris and his department and Gethin was informed that they are currently exploring a number of options to support this.

We hope to see some positive changes to UK roads and more importantly, a decrease in the current driver shortage.

 

Do you have any thoughts on the areas that Gethin covered with Chris Grayling?  Tweet us at @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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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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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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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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