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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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Young Driver Shortage – Enticing the Younger Generation

Many people dream of a job that allows them to travel the length of the country, head overseas, work flexible hours, meet new people every day and consistently receive professional support. Sound like it’s ticking all the right boxes? Some may be surprised to learn that the profession that perfectly fits this bill is a HGV driver, yet, despite its many perks, the industry is still struggling to recruit young people.

For the past two years, the haulage industry has been talking about the shortage of drivers. It is now, according to the House of Commons Transport Committee, widely accepted that this shortage reaches figures between 45,000 and 60,000. With 60% of HGV drivers aged above 45, and just 2% under the age of 25, the industry needs to find a way to motivate school leavers to consider choosing driving as a career path, so that when many of the existing drivers reach retirement, there will be a number of young people qualified and ready to step up into the available positions.

From being viewed as a ‘last resort’ career, to lack of awareness for the industry, there are a number of reasons why young people aren’t choosing the doors that the logistic industry opens. Largely, young people do not realise that the HGV industry is a viable career path; despite its net worth and its irreplaceable contribution to everyday life, the All Part Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Freight Transport claim that there is not enough career guidance or education on the HGV sector.

The availability of training for young people is there – they simply need to be told about it. The APPG found that there are 142 higher education courses on logistics (or related subjects) available to school leavers in the UK, which includes courses at 48 different universities. As the education leaver’s age has more recently increased to the age of 18, the age at which a C+E licence can be acquired, it is hoped that more people will leave school and head straight into the logistics sector.

However, their report also believes that insurance has a large contribution to the matter; many under 25s cannot afford to become drivers because of the cost of insurance, and without a full car licence, you cannot then proceed to become a HGV driver. To counter this problem, transport experts are recommending that student loans should be provided to cover the cost of vocational courses and any expenses they may have, which may include insurance.

There are increasing calls for the government to improve funding for the sector in a bid to encourage young people to pursue a HGV driver career. Here at Drivers Direct, we’re also keen for this to happen as we are very aware of the detrimental effects this shortage could have on the industry in the long haul.

At Drivers Direct, we believe that each of our drivers are happy and comfortable in their jobs, and under our care, each are trained to the highest standards. We hope that in the future we can overcome these difficulties and that our workforce can rapidly expand, which will in turn, enable the growth of the logistics industry as a whole.

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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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Women In Logistics

March 8th is International Women’s Day, and we’ve been investigating women in logistics. Despite the fact that there has been an incredible rise of women in the business world, the logistics sector is one which remains male dominated. Only one to two percent of the workforce in the world’s logistics sectors are women, although 125 million people work in this industry.

 

Although this statistic is less dramatic in the UK, it still remains that less than a quarter of the 1.5 million within the logistics industry are female, according to the UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES).

 

Yet in recent years, some studies have concluded that having more female leaders, including board members, managers and supervisors, leads to better business outcomes.  Examples of this include higher levels of productivity, safety and improved financial returns, as referenced in the 2009 Women in Supply Chain report.

 

This insight was supported by the PWC Transportation & Logistics 2030 report, which stated that companies with the most women board directors outperformed those with the least by an incredible 16% in return on sales, and by 26% in return on invested capital. These studies make a compelling business case for gender diversity and inclusion.

 

So if there are such strong evidence that women improve performance, why are we struggling to bring women into the logistics industry and what can be done to help resolve this?

 

The transport and logistics industry is typically described as a ‘non-traditional’ employment pathway for women and suffers from poor perceptions of its career opportunities for women.  Addressing perceptions that the logistics industry is a career option for all is a real challenge as it’s hard to escape the fact that roles can involve moving and lifting.

 

We need to focus on the fact that logistics is applicable to every industry and business sector in the world – retail, life sciences, fashion, technology, construction, transport and so on. This means that in addition to needing drivers and warehouse operatives, there’s also a requirement for business development and customer-facing personnel.

 

Encouragingly, several market developments are creating viable opportunities to include women in ‘non-traditional’ roles in the local and global industry. These include advances in technology such as automatic gearboxes and hydraulic lifting equipment, the retirement of existing workers, increasing levels of education and improved technical training among new entrants in the workforce.

 

For more information on Women in Logistics, visit the group online (aptly named Women in Logistics!). For more information on how you can join Drivers Direct, visit our website or give us a call on 01928 572200.

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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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Everything you need to know before taking to the road this winter

Our unpredictable and destructive winter weather conditions can cause issues for everyone on the roads, in particular professional drivers who have to operate large and heavy goods vehicles. To help prepare for the season ahead, we’ve put together some advice to prepare professional drivers for the winter weather.

No matter how the weather seems on the day of your journey, you will always need to check the weather forecast ahead of time to prepare your vehicle accordingly for any unexpected weather conditions. Not only that, you will want to take a thorough look at your planned route for any information on road accidents or weather-related collisions to help prepare you and your vehicle for the journey ahead.

Vehicle checks are always essential before any journey specifically during the winter as the weather becomes increasingly unpredictable. You’ll need to ensure you have all of your necessary equipment with you to check your vehicle on the go and well insulated clothing for checking your vehicle in cold weather or if you were to break down.

Even though your daily checks will include ensuring your wipers, screen wash and de-misters are appropriate for driving, you’ll need to make a habit of ensuring your windows, lights, plates, and reflective markings, steps and handrails are clear of ice, snow, and dirt.

The weight of your vehicle can make a substantial difference to your vehicle’s handling at this time of year when gusty weather is likely to occur. Getting the right balance is key in windy weather. If your load is too light you could get blown off course by a strong side wind, but if it’s too heavy your vehicle handling can become increasingly difficult; especially around corners.

If extreme weather conditions come into play like heavy ice and snow, gritters and snow ploughs should be around to clear main roads; but don’t assume smaller, rural roads will be covered too. You’ll need to exercise extreme caution on all roads in these weather conditions, especially if your route requires you to take rural roads.

Most importantly: don’t take dangerous risks with yourself or your cargo.

If you come into contact with dangerous weather conditions on your journey and you do not feel equipped to deal with it, take a break in a place that’s safe to stop and only continue your journey when you feel safe enough to do so. It would also be worth reporting back to base to let them and other know of the situation before continuing safely.

 

 

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