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It’s that time of year again…

After the year that called for lower alcohol limit, we are now heading into the party season and there has been a fresh call to reduce the drink driving limit.

The move follows new statistics which show that drink-driving figures have shown no improvement since 2010.  The figure of 240 people killed in collisions where at least one driver was over the drink-drive limit has remained unchanged since 2013.

The new campaign for a lower limit is being led by the Institute of Alcohol Studies (IAS) and supported by a number of stakeholders including the RAC Foundation, the AA, IAM RoadSmart Brake, PACTS and the Police Federation.  The current 80mg limit in England in Wales was set in 1965, but in 2014, Scotland lowered its drink-drive limit to 50mg/100ml – bringing it in line with the rest of Europe.  Malta is now the only country with a drink-drive limit the same as England and Wales, and is also set to lower its limit to 50mg/100ml, leaving us behind.

According to the IAS, reducing the limit to 50mg/100ml would save at least 25 lives per year.  The Department for Transport statistics also show that drink driving costs Great Britain £800m each year, and a British Social Attitudes Survey shows 77 per cent of the public support a lower legal limit.

Due to car and technological advances, we have seen a continual improvement in road safety in every other area except in regards to drink drinking.  Every year more than 3,000 people in the UK are killed or injured as a result of crashes on our roads relating to drink–driving and this number predictably spikes over the Christmas period.

So whilst we pick out our outfits for the office party season, forces across the country are braced for their traditionally hectic festive and New Year period, trying hard to raise awareness of the dangers on our roads and keep people safe as they travel around. It’s a busy time for us at Drivers Direct too with the placing of drivers of all classes for clients who need support either on a temporary, seasonal or more permanent basis.

Even a very small amount of alcohol can affect driving performance with two drinks almost doubling the risk of a fatal accident.  In general, people are getting far better at staying away from the wheel after one too many during the night but too many are quick to jump back behind it after a sleep, unaware that they are still over the limit.

So don’t take chances. Drive safe and stay safe this winter.

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Independent Driving Over Manufactured Manoeuvres

As the practical driving test celebrates its 80th birthday, the DVSA wants to change the format of the current test to better assess learner drivers on their ability to drive independently on busy, modern roads; rather than focussing on ‘manufactured manoeuvres’ such as a driver’s ability to turn the car around in a back street.

As yet there’s no change announced for to those preparing for their HGV license, although no doubt examiners will be on the watch to see how successful the new driving test would be before deciding to roll it out to other classes.

So what’s different?

One of the changes include ‘show me’ and ‘tell me’ questions that will be asked while the vehicle is in use on the road to access the driver’s ability to operate the vehicle’s controls safely while driving.

The trials will also look at increasing the duration of independent driving from ten minutes to twenty minutes; with the added use of a satellite navigation system (operated by the test instructor) that will be used during the trial test.

There will also be a change made to some of the test’s classic manoeuvres.  Instead of being asked to turn in the road, reverse around a corner or reverse park (either into a parking bay, or parallel parking at the side of the road) the DVSA is now asking for drivers to “Drive into and reverse out of a parking bay, pull up on the right, reverse, and rejoin the traffic or reverse parking (either into a parking bay, or parallel parking at the side of the road)”.

There is also some good news for those trialling the test.  For the learner drivers that take part in the trial driving test, if they are successful they will obtain a full UK driving license as the test being used in the research is an actual driving licence acquisition test.

The changes are designed to help new drivers and make them better prepared for modern roads and modern driving conditions.  As a further element to this, the DVSA will be introducing the use of satnav during the test and excluding manoeuvres that new drivers will rarely use like the ‘3 point turn in the road’.  This will leave more time for learners to show their abilities of driving independently and confidently – skills that will be essential to them when they pass their test.

So are you in favour of ditching the dreaded ‘turn in the road’ for more independent driving during a test?  Let us know in the comments!

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DRIVERS DIRECT JOINS LEADING INDUSTRY BODY

Drivers Direct has been appointed as a corporate member of the Chartered Institute of Logistics & Transport (CILT).  In a prestigious ceremony, more than 100 representatives from 57 companies gathered at the Kettering Park Hotel to receive their commemorative plaque for 2015-2016.

In a separate announcement, Gethin Roberts, founder and managing director of Drivers Direct, was appointed as a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Logistics & Transport.  The appointments are in recognition of the role that Drivers Direct, and the recently launched logistics division, plays in the industry.

The event included members from across the profession, including those from the financial sector, leading universities and the biggest names in logistics and transport.

Kevin Richardson FCILT, Chief Executive, CILT, said: ‘The corporate side of CILT is significant to us. We believe that having corporate members enables us to interact with organisations and members in a way that our individual membership doesn’t allow.  Getting a group like this together and having companies such as Drivers Direct as members makes us a very strong organisation.’

Gethin Roberts, managing director of Drivers Direct, adds: “We’re proud to now be part of CILT and look forward to helping influence the shape of the industry.  Our industry still faces many challenges; the driver shortage, skills gaps and attracting a diverse workforce however by working within CILT we hope to to play our part on addressing these issues and sharing best practice.’

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BACKING THE BEST TO CHALLENGE CUP SUCCESS

New Farington House has been crowned Challenge Cup winners after victory over rivals New Longton Rovers in a thrilling match held at the Sir Tom Finney Stadium, Bamber Bridge.  The New Farington House team, whose club is sponsored by Drivers Direct, came from 3-1 down to take the trophy after a pulsating match.

After a challenging first half, New Farington House pulled themselves back into the game with a well struck shot from Zack Wilkes early in the second half.  Minutes later Dylan Agnew levelled the scores at 3-3 and almost immediately from the restart a beautifully lofted ball into the area was headed home by Adam Smith to make the score 4-3 and to take the Challenge Cup home to Centurion Way, Leyland.

Gethin Roberts, managing director of Drivers Direct, comments: “A fantastic result for Farry House who showed real grit and determination to come from behind to win the cup.  As a local employer and with employees involved in the team, we’re proud to be sponsors of the club and to have helped them in some way to achieve such great successes this season.”

League President Dave Carlisle presented the Cup and souvenir medals to the teams on behalf of the sponsors the Syndicate Trust.

New Farington House Football Club are an FA Charter Standard Club that Play in the Lancashire Sunday Football League, playing in the Premier Division.  Known locally as Farry House, the squad is managed by Stephen Broomhead and includes Graeme Conroy who is club secretary and a Drivers Direct employee.

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TACKLING DRIVER SHORTAGES

For a number of years now the UK’s haulage industry has seen a steady decline in the number of HGV drivers available, with those retiring or pursuing alternative careers outnumbering those entering the industry.

Additionally, of those who have a career in the industry, the average age is currently 53 with only two percent of drivers under 25. These statistics highlight the need to attract new talent to the industry in order to keep the natural progression within the workforce running smoothly.

It’s clear that many young employees who may have traditionally chosen the haulage and logistics industry aren’t now doing so. Some of the off putting elements are the industry’s associations with lifting and moving objects as well as a lack of a metaphorical job ladder to climb. Once these are combined with the negative press surrounding the industry’s high work rates due to driver shortages, there is a clear hurdle to be overcome.

The good news is that action is now being taken to tackle these issues, however attracting new talent isn’t easy. HGV licence applications have dropped by more than 32,000 in the past five years which can be accredited to several reasons, including: the cost of licence acquisition, lack of understanding of the industry and poor industry image.

We believe there is a need to better highlight the benefits of working in an industry that is so crucial to the UK economy. The Road Haulage Association (RHA), Freight Transport Association (FTA), The Chartered Institute of logistics and transport and the Government have all acknowledged the issues and initiatives are now being put in place to tackle the problem.

All have similarly pledged to campaign for changes to help combat the shortage: including, funding for vocational training, better driver facilities, quicker turnaround of medical queries by the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency and a campaign to raise awareness of the logistics sector.

Alongside this The Recruitment & Employment Federation (REC) have also spoken out on the issue. The REC have highlighted the impact that a driver shortage is having on the productivity of the UK economy; the importance of the recruitment industry in solving driver shortages; and called on the government to take urgent action in regards to those issues raised above.

With a concerted effort by all relevant bodies to tackle the apparent issues it is hoped the HGV driver shortage can be effectively and efficiently managed and be kept from bringing many industries that rely on the deliveries to a literal grinding halt.

For our own part, we are in support of the actions taken by the industry bodies and are also working on a programme of attracting more people to the sector.   This ranges from raising the industry profile at a local branch level, to attending and recruiting at popular events such as Truckfest.  We are also working with organisations such as the armed forces, whose personnel share many of the common skill sets needed in drivers such as being organised, punctual and responsible.

With a cohesive and positive approach we’re confident the industry will once again attract the right people to help it continue to deliver on its customer’s promises.

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Shelling Out For Easter

With Easter just around the corner, one might start to wonder how the Easter Bunny delivers the 80 million Easter eggs and sweet treats to children across the country. That’s where we come in, using logistics technology, savvy strategies and perfect planning we play our part in getting Easter treats from ‘A’ to ‘B’.

National holidays crop up throughout the year and when they rear their head it’s all hands to the pump here at Drivers Direct as getting the right products to the right place and at the right time is critical for our client’s business success.

The holiday seasons often equate to large revenues for client businesses. In a bid to make the most of those extra days off Britons can spend 120% more than on an average weekend. The words ‘out of stock’ are forbidden amongst manufacturers during this time and on-time deliveries are crucial within the supply chain journey. These pressures are piled on top of an already congested road network and busy logistics industry.

It will come as no great surprise that Britain already has the busiest, most congested roads in Europe with 77 vehicles per kilometre of road, 76% more than the European average.  On top of this it is estimated that this Easter Bank Holiday as many as 16 million cars will take to the roads. Navigating the UK’s road systems to tight time deadlines is no mean feat for even the most seasoned logistics professional or vehicle driver.

Qualified drivers and logistics professionals are currently in short supply. A shortage of UK lorry drivers means Drivers Direct is called upon to fill the additional roles required over holiday season, to the extent that we now have more than 1000 drivers on the road each week.

An increase in consumer demand creates a domino effect across the entire chain. More product requires greater truck capacity. Resulting in a greater number of vehicles needed and consequently, drivers to operate these vehicles.

Although the Bank Holiday throws up challenges for logistics professionals, it comes as no great surprise that with careful pre-planning the Easter headache can be eased. So, as Britain indulges in chocolaty delights this Easter, think of our Drivers Direct Easter bunnies who are working tirelessly to make sure no one goes empty handed over the weekend.

 

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The Complete Package

There’s no denying that business is booming as more and more clients turn to Drivers Direct when looking to bolster their business with qualified and professional drivers.  However, with more than 1000 drivers now on the road every week, clients were increasingly asking us whether we could offer the complete package and also provide them with vehicles.

With this in mind last year we launched our new logistics division. It was a key step towards providing our customers with an offer that not only includes access to qualified drivers but a complete logistics package that includes people, vehicles and logistics management.

Headquartered in Royton, near Oldham, the logistics division is positioned perfectly for excellent access to the northern motorway network and, with the ideal infrastructure and technology in place, the team is well placed to meet and exceed required service levels.

Although initially offering access to more than twenty commercial vehicles, in less than six months after launching we’ve needed to add to the fleet to cope with the growing demand. Nine brand new trucks have been delivered to the office, much to the delight of our regular drivers who get to take them out on the road. Renault was selected as our supplier of choice due to their vehicle range and commitment to meet our requirements.

The logistics division’s success has largely been down to the team running the operations as it is full of experienced, qualified professionals. The team understands what required of them, the importance of client deadlines and how to deliver the most cost effective logistics solutions available.

With the right people and continued client demand, we’re confident that our logistics division will continue to go from strength to strength.  We’re proud to say that from the inception of Drivers Direct, through to our recent expansion, it’s a pleasure to work within the sector, particularly now we can offer the complete package.

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STAY SAFE WHATEVER THE WEATHER

There’s no denying it, this winter has been one of the wettest and warmest on record as the Met Office advises that the last few months have seen record rainfall and temperatures more often associated with the British summertime.

As wet weather can cause some of the most hazardous driving conditions, we thought we would share some useful tips and hints to help you through these uncharacteristically wet conditions.

To begin, plan your journey in advance and take care to avoid areas which are prone to flooding and factor in extra time to allow for slower speeds and potential congestion.  It’s important to ensure your vehicle is also prepared by checking windscreen wiper blades are fully functional and that you have sufficient fuel, as using lights and heaters or being caught in traffic can use more fuel than driving in normal conditions.

While on the road, use dipped headlights so that other drivers can see you more easily.  Be careful not to use rear fog lights as this can mask your brake lights or dazzle drivers behind you.  Perhaps most importantly, reduce your speed and leave more space between you and the vehicle in front to account for greater stopping distances – remember to double the two-second rule as ‘only a fool breaks the two second rule’.

Watch out for spray from other large or fast moving vehicles and remember that driving fast through standing water could lead to tyres losing contact with the road.  If this happens, do not brake but ease off the accelerator and allow your speed to reduce until you gain full control of the steering again.

Driving fast through deep water or flooded areas can also cause serious damage and be expensive to repair, so don’t attempt to drive through water unless you are sure of the depth – the edge of the kerb is a good indicator.  Motoring organisations also advise to never attempt to drive through fast flowing water as vehicles can easily get swept away and remember to test your brakes after leaving any water.

As we head in to February, we may yet see the more typical freezing or snowy conditions return.  If that’s the case, check all windows, lights and number plates are clear, so you can both see and be seen.

Do keep a watch out for icy conditions as clear winter skies can quickly leave areas frozen, particularly if the road surface is wet.  Good indicators of ice on the roads can be frozen windscreens or pavements. In icy conditions remember to accelerate and brake gently to avoid skidding.

When driving in such wintery conditions, use a higher gear than normal as it helps reduce wheel spin on slippery surfaces and move off gently to avoid spinning the wheels.  As with wet weather conditions, leave extra space between you and other vehicles and take even more care at junctions where road markings may not be visible or snow compacted.

By following these simple measures, and taking extra care of yourself and vehicle during these wet and wintery conditions, we hope that you stay safe whatever the weather.

 

 

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Is There Need For Speed?

Despite the dangers of speeding regularly appearing through various road safety campaigns – head turning statistics, heart-wrenching TV adverts and even shocking road signs, some drivers continue to push the boundaries of speed restrictions in an effort to reach their destination quicker.

This is evident in the number of speeding fines, which is increasing year on year, with more than 115,000 motorists fined in 2013. However, figures from THINK! presents another shocking, but realistic statistic – speed is a main factor in all fatal accidents.

It’s public knowledge that speeding is both dangerous and illegal, so why do some drivers continue to risk both their lives and others?

Research conducted by the AA Foundation found that, although speeding is widespread, drivers aged 17-24 drive the fastest with males more likely to speed than women. There is a growing concern that speeding is now largely accepted as a ‘social norm’ and perhaps even considered to be a ‘trend’. Unbelievably, a survey conducted by THINK! found that 82% of people believe littering to be unacceptable behaviour, whereas only 71% discouraged driving at 40mph in a 30mph zone. Despite 30 zones being situated in well – populated areas, such as schools and housing estates, 50% of drivers break the 30mph speed limit.

As well as lateness, drivers exceed the limit for a number of reasons; their car is newer and faster, they are unaware of the speed limit and some motorist speed because they think it is unlikely they’ll get caught. With the minimum fine starting at £100 and three penalty points added to your driving license plus stricter punishments for those travelling at higher speeds, is it really worth the risk?

Domestic drivers often forget that limits are maximum’s, not minimum’s, and often, depending on the weather conditions, it may not be safe to travel at the maximum speed. Drivers should always allow enough time and space to slow or stop for unexpected situations and if you are running late for something, ring ahead so that the drive isn’t rushed.

At Drivers Direct, we believe it is crucial to follow the guidance of speed limits and all driving laws. The core purpose of speed limits is simply to help keep all motorists and pedestrians safe. Our drivers are trained to follow road legislation which in turn helps provide our clients with an efficient service, as well as keeping other road users safe.

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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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