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Top 10 Songs to Improve Your Drive

Wednesday 21st June marks the start of the Fête de la Musique. Also known as ‘World Music Day’, it offers a global celebration of something that has a heavy presence within the majority of our everyday lives. Whether you’re a hairbrush diva or all your road trips have their own playlists, World Music Day should be celebrated – with experts concluding that there are a number of health benefits to listening (and singing!) to music at the wheel.

 

There’s nothing quite like a song you love, but had long-forgotten about, unexpectedly coming on the radio while you’re driving. But what exactly is the science behind that rush we get when we know every word to a nostalgia-filled song from yesteryear? Professor Stephen Clift, a leading authority on the health benefits of singing based at the U.K.’s Canterbury Christ Church University, says: ‘Singing loudly and free from inhibitions – really ‘letting go’ – means the mental release will be greater as more energy is put into it […] When we sing familiar songs loudly, we experience a ‘feel-good factor’ arising from deeper, slower breathing, and increased muscular activity. We feel less stressed and more relaxed.’ Even more of an excuse to crank up the volume!

 

Furthermore, Jan Schroll, supervisor Multi‑Media and Connectivity at Ford of Europe, says: ‘Experts agree that there are a range of health benefits to staging impromptu karaoke sessions at the wheel – ones we only feel truly comfortable giving when there is no one else around, and the in-car sound system is providing the backing. For many people listening to the music they love on the move is a fundamental part of every journey – it is the soundtrack to their own personal road movie.’ So, not only does blasting the tunes feel great, but it’s great for you, too.

 

Despite the huge shift towards more technological aspects of listening to music, such as streaming services like Spotify and Pandora, there’s nothing wrong with going old-fashioned, as displayed by a study from Edison Research. They conducted a study of more than 8,500 Americans aged 13 and over to determine where their time listening to music is spent. 44% of listening time was via AM/FM radio: by far the largest share. The number 2 share of listening time, at just 18%, was spent listening to music that had been purchased, such as CDs or digital downloads. So, if it’s the iPod you’re plugging in or relying on the good old-fashioned stereo, all evidence shows that it’s good for you in every way!

 

In celebration of World Music Day, here at Drivers Direct we’ve compiled a playlist of some of the best driving songs for your next journey:

 

Born To be Wild – Steppenwolf

Highway to Hell – AC/DC

Jessica – The Allman Brothers

Don’t Stop Me Now – Queen

Fast Car – Tracy Chapman

Road to Nowhere – Talking Heads

Life is a Highway – Tom Cochrane

Home – Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros

Mr. Blue Sky – ELO

Drive My Car – The Beatles

 

We hope this playlist will help you along your next long drive – and remember that as great as sing-alongs are, remember to keep focussed on the road and never let music distract you from safe driving.

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Keeping Healthy Behind the Wheel

After World Health Day was celebrated around the globe on 7th April, we began to think about ways which we could keep healthy whilst on the road. Many studies over the years have shown that those in the road haulage industry are at a higher risk of developing obesity and other relates illnesses, due to a combination of factors including shift times, the sedentary nature of driving, stress and the limited food options available for truck drivers. So what can be done to make sure that we keep ourselves healthy?

 

The first step towards leading a healthier lifestyle is to take a think about what we’re putting into our bodies. When deadlines are tight and life is hectic, it can be tempting to reach for the junk food, be that pasties, chips or chocolate – which isn’t helped by the limited options that can be found roadside. The way forward is to prep ahead! Take half an hour out of your day, and your body will thank you. Ditch the mayo-filled sandwich and tuck into this spicy chicken and avocado wrap; if you’re a pasta lover, why not try making your own pasta salad brimming with pesto, vegetables and tuna?

 

Another way to help look after your health is to try to work in even a small amount of exercise each and every day. Even if it’s only 10 minutes of a quick walk around the block or some basic stretches before bed, getting your blood pumping and raising your heart just a little will do your body the world of good. If you’re just starting on an exercise journey, it can be hard to find the motivation to turn it into habit. Writing down in a diary what you intend to do each day will help keep you on track, or partnering up with a friend or family member is huge help to encourage you to stick to your plan.

 

A key to good health which may slip many people’s minds is keeping hydrated. Drinking enough water is necessary for the body to work properly – water helps to transport nutrients and oxygen around the body, gets rid of waste products, helps control the body’s temperature and keep the digestive system working properly. Not only that, but drinking plenty of water helps to keep headaches and hunger at bay. Just how much we should be drinking varies on age, activity level and environment – though many people aim for 8 glasses of water a day. Keep a large water bottle in your cab to make sure you never run out, and set small aims for drinking a certain amount every hour if you struggle to drink enough.

 

As well as keeping our physical bodies healthy, it’s important to look after our state of mind healthy as well. The modern world brings a whole load of stresses to our every day lives, and it doesn’t take much to go from feeling a little stressed to completely burnt out. Mindfulness is a hugely popular technique where you start to focus on the small things you notice in the moment when you feel yourself started to get overwhelmed. Focus on how different parts of your body feels, the sights, sounds and smells that are immediately surrounding you that tend to fade into the background. If mindfulness isn’t for you, try to take 5 minutes every day (either before you go to bed, or when you start to feel getting stressed out) where you pick one thing or person that you’re grateful for, and immerse yourself in a memory of them to bring yourself just a few quiet moments of peace.

 

We hope that this blog helps you take some steps to kick start a journey to being a healthier you. If you are worried about any aspect of your physical or mental health, always contact your GP.

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Driving in the Rain – Dangers and Safety

Winter doesn’t look like it’s going anywhere anytime soon, and that includes the fairly miserable weather that comes with it! There’s no escaping the wet weather in this country, but just how dangerous is it to take to the road when it’s raining, and what can we do to ensure our own and others’ safety?

First of all, make sure you leave yourself extra time to make your journey – don’t put yourself under pressure to make it to your destination on time when there may well be a likelihood of dangerous roads and congestion and you may endanger yourself and other road users to do so.

Many people may rush to their cars at the first sign of rain – but remember that the most dangerous time to drive in this bad weather is when it has just started raining. This is because the rain will mix with the oil and dust which has been sitting on the road surface

Driving in the rain can also seriously reduce visibility, so it’s vital to turn your dipped beam headlights on so that other road users can see you – even in the daylight. Be sure to check that your headlights are working before heading out in wet weather.

When on the road, remember that The Highway Code states that stopping distances are at least doubled in wet weather as the tyres will have less grip on the road. It is recommended to leave a 4 second gap between yourself and the car in front – count how long it takes the vehicle in front to pass a lamppost or other markings before you pass it yourself.

It is always a good idea to adjust your speed to meet the conditions in the rain, which can reduce the chances of ‘aquaplaning’. Aquaplaning refers to when your vehicle’s tyres come into contact with too much water than they can clear away, so the water builds under the tyre and lifts it away from the road surface so you are essentially ‘gliding’ across the water which has the potential to make you lose control of your vehicle.

You can usually tell if you’re aquaplaning if your steering wheel suddenly feels light and you can hear the rush of the water underneath your vehicle. It is essential that if this happens to you, that you do not brake – slamming on your brakes will make the car skid even further out of your control. Slowly release the accelerator and focus on keeping the car in the centre of the road, and eventually the water will be released and your tyres will grip the road again.

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Telematics – The Future of Driving

Telematics is becoming essential for larger logistic companies with research showing that almost nine out of 10 fleets, with more than 500 employees, have introduced telematics. One thing’s for sure, with the rise of technology infiltrating our everyday lives more and more, it will become a fundamental part of fleet management over the next few years.

Innovations in technology are changing how the world does business, and technology is dramatically changing how the logistics industry function in nearly every aspect. From increased affordability and efficiency of the transportation management system (TMS) to the application of Bluetooth technology for superior tracking of product movements.

These advances have their advantages and telematics can help tackle four of the biggest issues facing fleets: cost control; risk management; carbon reduction; and fleet productivity.  Here’s a breakdown of the benefits….

 

1. Helps to reduce insurance cost

When a company installs GPS tracking devices in its vehicles, insurance companies give discounts on premiums. Therefore, by equipping all vehicles with GPS tacking devices, the companies tremendously reduce the insurance premiums that they pay every month.

 

2. Helps locate vehicles at any given time

Knowing the location of vehicles at all times helps a transportation company to communicate more effectively with not only drivers, but with its customers as well. By seeing the location of all company vehicles on a map, a company can tell its customers the exact time they should expect the goods being transported to them to arrive.

 

3. Helps improve safety

The safety of both driver and freight on transit has been greatly improved with GPS tracking. If drivers were ever to run into problems, they can get the help they need from their headquarters who will be able to locate them. If there is a problem with a vehicle, another vehicle can be sent immediately to the exact location of the vehicle that has problems. This has helped to minimize delays that can eat up the profits up these companies and affect customers expecting deliveries.

 

4. Helps companies to manage maintenance

Telematics create alerts based on mileage, engine use or time. This helps to develop an advanced vehicle maintenance schedule. Vehicles that are properly maintained and serviced will rarely develop mechanical problems that can delay the movement of goods, and improve driver safety.

 

5. Helps companies earn the trust of customers

GPS fleet tracking has enabled transportation companies to earn the trust of their customers. This is because a company that has GPS tracking systems on its vehicles is able to tell a customer the specific location of goods being transported at any given time. Also, a customer whose goods are being transported can know when their goods are going to reach the desired destination.

Although not the be all and end all, telematics stands out as being the single most cost effective answer to help deliver logistic goals whilst assisting with driver safety. It is certainly a technology whose advancement and development we are eager to see.

 

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HGV Drivers Push For Government Funding

With so many lorries and operator vehicles on UK roads, one wouldn’t think there was a shortage of drivers in the haulage industry, however, driver shortages have been well documented.  Now that we are heading into the peak shopping time of the year, there has been a rise in concerns over the high demand for goods to be delivered quicker than ever before.

The figures speak for themselves as this year alone, it is now expected that there will be a demand for approximately 45,000-60,000 professional drivers to supply goods across the country. Companies now need to ensure their logistic operators are prepared to have enough manpower to be able to deliver on their promises, particularly as customer expectations are rising and next day delivery being expected almost as standard.

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 will 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.

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 as the freight industry continues to develop and the pressure on deliveries continues.  HGV driving can be rewarding and enjoyable career choice with the right training and support.

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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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NEW SERVICES DRIVE GROWTH FOR DRIVERS DIRECT

Drivers Direct, one of the UK’s leading providers of temporary and permanent drivers to commercial organisations, has reported an 8% increase in its turnover to £21.95million for the year ended 31 March 2016.  The company’s profits remain in line with the increase in sales.

The positive results come after a strong performance from the company’s new logistics division as well as the maturing of the six branches it opened last year.  The logistics division has also reported that it now has more than 42 vans and trucks on the road every day and that the recruitment business provides more than 1,200 drivers to client businesses each week.

Gethin Roberts, managing director of Drivers Direct, comments: “The investments that we have made in new offices, staff and equipment have paid dividends and allowed us to grow to meet the strong demand we are experiencing for our people and services.

“We have hit the ground running again this year and made a very positive start with the high demand for drivers continuing.  We anticipate that this will continue as we head towards Christmas and we are well placed to build on this market leading position in the coming years.”

Established in 2002, Drivers Direct covers all driver classes, from chauffeurs and fork lift driver’s right through to LGV Class 1 and 2 drivers, supplies more than 1200 drivers a week to clients from across the public and private sectors.  The company currently has a network of 21 branches across the UK.

 

 

 

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ARE WE HEADING FOR A CHRISTMAS OF CHAOS?

Nearly all of the food we eat, most of our clothes, and almost everything we use to build and furnish our homes is, at some point, moved by road transport. With over two million UK employees, road haulage is the UK’s fifth largest industry and contributes over £70 billion to the UK economy annually.

Haulage isn’t just about transportation of goods from A to B, its relationship to the success of British business is similar to the role of worker bees have in food production – critical.  But like the threats facing bees, the sector is facing unprecedented challenges this Christmas.

It is now widely accepted that there is an increasing shortage of drivers that ranges from about 45,000–60,000 depending on your source.  Drivers are retiring from the industry in high numbers, while the sector is also suffering from an inability to attract new talent as HGV licence applications have also dropped by more than 32,000 in the past five years.

The frustrating thing however is that for every driver the sector needs, there are actually three people in the UK with a valid LGV license who could do the work but two in three choose not to, so why is this?

The industry must take steps to improve its conditions so it can recruit and importantly retain the drivers it needs. The starting point has to be greater investment in recruitment, training and driver welfare following years of under-funding as well as roadside facilities for drivers which are currently scarce and inadequate, so must be improved.

Currently the industry is predominantly made up of over 45s, white and male.   Until more is done in regards to the approach to driver training, the funding of license acquisition, and facilities for drivers, then it is unlikely the sector will be able to broaden its appeal.

Why does it matter so much?  Quite simply without the haulage industry there is a very real likelihood of stores suffering from low levels of stock, with any lack of availability having a massive knock on effect on retailers, the construction industry or manufacturers all of whom rely on the sector to keep their businesses, and the UK’s economy, on track.

This Christmas is set to put a massive strain on depleted resources, yet is one that’s critically important to get right with a quarter of all personal spending taking place during the Christmas/holiday shopping season.  This puts an inevitable strain on the already under staffed haulage industry.

There are however some positive changes in the mix. There are just over 400,000 heavy goods vehicles registered in Britain and although the number has remained fairly static for many years now, productivity of new vehicles has increased.  The vehicles are also larger in terms of space they take up on our roads but also offer greater capacity.

There also continues to be a big increase in double-shifting – not of drivers but of vehicles. The newer vehicles are much more efficient and require less downtime. The sector is also embracing new technologies and is becoming an increasingly IT-driven industry allowing logistic businesses to use technology to plan, monitor and manage how a vehicle is best used.

It’s likely to be a challenging time this Christmas as businesses compete for the limited resources.  Let’s hope however that with continued improvements to technologies, transport and training the sector is once again able to take on the challenges it will undoubtedly face this Christmas.

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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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An Evening of Glitz and Glamour for Drivers Direct

It’s that time of year again; the red carpets are rolled out, the tables are adorned with the finest bottles of bubbly and we get out our best outfits. The night of glamour we’re talking about is, of course, the famous Drivers Direct Annual Dinner, held in celebration of the company’s accomplishments of the past year – and what a year it has been!

In the last twelve months, we’ve successfully launched and ran a logistics division, increased the number of commercial vehicles in our fleet, provided more shifts, opened new premises in three major cities. We also received recognition as a corporate member of the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport and have made a number of appearances at leading industry events, including Truckfest.

Of course all of these achievements would not have been possible without the hard work from each and every one of our dedicated employees. Naturally, there was only one way forward; to celebrate in style whilst raising money for a fantastic cause.

On Saturday 9th July, for the fourteenth year running, we hosted our prestigious company dinner. Taking place in the ball room of the impressive Victory Service Club near to the exquisite Marble Arch in London, 162 members of the Drivers Direct team met for an evening of live music, incredible food and exceptional company.

During the evening, in an effort to show the company’s appreciation for its staff, awards were presented for six categories: League Division 1, 2 and 3, Highest Margin Branch, Franchise of the Year and Employee of the Year, as well as a long-service award to those who have remained a part of the team for a significant amount of time.

We’re proud to announce that the following employees and branches were crowned winners (drum roll please!):

Employee of the Year: Matt Rogers from our Crewe Branch

Highest Gross Profit: Crew Branch

League One Winners: Sheffield Branch (branch manager David Dawson won a long weekend in New York).

League Two Winners: Cardiff Branch (branch manager Claire Osborne won a long weekend in Paris)

League Three Winners: Liverpool Branch (branch manager Emma Hughes won a long weekend in London).

Franchise of the Year: Northampton (franchisees: John and Bev Major)

In addition, Helen Walker from our Crewe branch and Vicky Meaden from the headquarters in Runcorn received the two long service awards after dedicating five years to the company and received a Mont Blanc pen and a certificate of recognition.

Finally, a special award was presented to Bill Tirebuck, a founding partner of Drivers Direct, who will sadly be retiring at the end of this month.

Not only were we able to celebrate yet another successful year for the company, but during the evening we also seized the opportunity to raise money for a fantastic charitable cause, and this year, donations were made to Cancer Research UK. We’re pleased to announce that the kind donations of everyone in attendance resulted in £1,200 being raised on the night, however, we will double this to donate a total of £2,400 to a wonderful cause.

Once again, we would like to say congratulations to all who took home an award. Whilst we were only able to present six awards, we recognise that every team member has been exceptional in their work ethic and has contributed to the success we have experienced over the past year. At Drivers Direct, we cannot wait to see what the next year has in store for us, which will of course be celebrated at the next annual dinner!

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