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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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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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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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Driving In The Dark

There’s no doubt that driving at night is more dangerous. A Department for Transport study revealed that although only 15 per cent of vehicle miles are clocked between 7pm and 7am, they account for almost a third of road injuries and deaths.

The main reason for an increase in traffic accidents is due to reduced visibility and difficulty judging speed and distance. So as the clocks go back and the dark nights draw in, below are a few handy tips for driving at night.

Sight is seeing. It’s vital to get your sight checked regularly as this will highlight any underlying problems such as glaucoma, as this can affect your night vision. Also, never wear dark or tinted lenses for night driving.

Lighten up. The Institute of Advanced Motorists advises motorists to keep headlights on after sunrise and turning them on for an hour before sunset so it’s easier for motorists to see you during twilight. Make sure all exterior lights are clean and working properly and only use interior lights when stationary.

Don’t dazzle. When driving on rural roads, full beams are useful to see into the distance, but make sure to dip the headlights when facing on-coming traffic as this can dazzle other drivers.

Keep a steady speed. Avoid dropping speed rapidly when approaching on-coming traffic and then speeding up again once you’ve passed. This can be confusing for motorists travelling behind you.

Stay clean. Make sure your windows are clean inside and out as dirty windows will increase the glare from other vehicles and are more prone to steaming up.

Be prepared and read the road ahead for signs of on-coming traffic. Glimmers of lights at the top of hills could be other road users, so anticipate your lights may need to be dipped soon. Ensure to read all the road signs and be more alert when travelling through pedestrian zones, as people and cyclists can be harder to spot, especially if they are not wearing reflective clothing.

Finally, take your breaks. It’s always essential to take regular breaks when driving long distances, but this is even more vital when you’re driving in darkness. It’s important to stop for a rest and keep yourself alert and legal.

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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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Hang up on social driving…

In a technology driven world, it’s no surprise that there are more than 83.1 million mobile phones in the UK. Phones have become integral in our everyday routine, using them for work, rest and play. However, as mobile phones become more mainstream, they now present serious danger on the road as some UK drivers continue to use their phone behind the wheel.

Since 2003, using hand-held phones whilst driving has been illegal, which includes periods of queueing in traffic or at traffic lights. Similarly, they cannot be used when supervising a learner driver. However, all drivers should be aware that if there is an emergency and it is unsafe or impractical to stop, drivers may use their phone to dial 999 – this is the only exception to the rules.

You may think the penalty of breaking these rules would be enough to deter drivers – a maximum fine of £1000 or £2500 for drivers of buses and good vehicles, would go a long way towards their phone bill, not to mention at least three points marked on your license.

However, figures from a 2012 survey conducted by the Department for Transport found that 378 accidents reported that year involved a mobile phone, resulting in a horrific 548 casualties, 17 of them fatal. Motoring experts now believe that mobile phone use is now the biggest cause of death on UK roads.

Despite these harrowing facts and figures, a disturbing new trend has emerged, taking over social media with the hashtag #DrivingSelfie. A recent survey found that out of 500 drivers questioned, 1 in 5 admitted to taking selfies while on the road. Even more shockingly, one in 12 admitted to using Skype or FaceTime to video call whilst behind the wheel, while another 7 per cent admitted to watching TV during their journey.

After conducting a survey which found 70% of young drivers consider texting acceptable when pulled over with the engine running, The AA has pledged to help tackle the nationwide problem by working alongside driving instructors. With pressure mounting to increase the penalty fines, the motor specialists are aiming to spread the safety message, by ensuring that lessons for future learners have a prominent focus on mobile phone usage, highlighting the ‘do’s and don’ts’ of the law.

Here at Drivers Direct, our driver’s safety is our priority. As using a mobile phone behind the wheel can affect every road user and has serious consequences, our training and recruitment ensures that all our drivers know and follow the law. With this in place we can provide a safe and effective service, safe in the knowledge that our drivers know that the solution is simple: don’t use your phone behind the wheel.

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UK Motorists Experience License Shake Up In New Regulations

With less than a month to go before the paper license is scrapped, UK drivers are becoming increasingly concerned with the changes. As part of a major regulation shakeup from the DVLA, the paper license counterpart will no longer be valid or hold any legal status from the 8th June, which may cause problems for Brits trying to hire a car abroad.

The DVLA recently changed their objectives to simplify their policies whilst also promising to commit to a ‘seamless, digital and physical service that exceeds expectations and attracts people to more cost-effective channels’. A Government spokesperson described the move from paper to an online system as ‘reducing the burden on motorists’, as the information will now be more accessible motorists.

This may seem like a simple movement but there is confusion as some paper licenses are exempt from the new rules. Paper documents issued before 1998 will still be valid as the photo card had not been introduced by this point and drivers who hold these are being urged not to destroy them.

With the summer holiday period fast approaching, motorists affected by the change are now worried they could face difficulties when hiring a car abroad, as foreign firms may be unaware of the changes and may expect to see both parts of the license.

Holidaymakers will now be required to log onto the DVLA website the day before they jet-set and enter their license number to obtain a code to give the car hire company on arrival. As easy as this sounds, there may be some complications. Once registered, the passcode is only valid for 72 hours, making it difficult for holiday-goers to hire a car for an in prompt road trip.

This is not the only change the DVLA has recently issued. Last year the paper tax disc was abolished and transferred to an online system, causing confusion for those wanting to sell their car with existing tax.

The changes have left UK motorists struggling to keep up with the latest rules which has consequently resulted in fines and clamped vehicles. However, the new system, once settled should provide an effective service to drivers. With less paper to worry about and the documents easily accessible online, the new changes have the potential to benefit all motorists.

At Drivers Direct we ensure that all our regulations are up to date so that we can continue to work effectively and efficiently. It is our priority to provide a service to our employees that follows all legal obligations so that our drivers can enjoy their work legally and safely.

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Driving On The Most Dangerous UK Roads

For the majority of us, driving is an everyday necessity or even a fundamental part of a career. However, you may be shocked to learn a quiet rural road in Wales is considered the most dangerous road in the UK, surprising many locals who regularly use it.

Research suggests Carmarthen East and Dinefwr in Wales have the most dangerous roads in the UK as they have the highest fatality and injury rates across the UK in relation to the population. In 2014 alone, the county of Carmarthenshire saw 89 serious injuries and 519 minor injuries from motor accidents, but what makes this road more fatal and accident prone than any other?

The safety of a road is largely affected by its location. Many people believe motorways to be the most dangerous travel route due to the high speed and the number of motorists using them on a daily basis. When an accident does occur, it affects more people and often gains media coverage, giving the illusion that they are exceptionally dangerous. However, motorways are actually the safest road type and report the lowest number of accidents. The speed limit may be higher than other roads, but it is consistent and sees everyone travelling at the same or similar speeds, on long stretches of roads with fewer bends and a much safer system for overtaking.

Rural areas tend to have a much higher accident occurrence rate for a number of reasons. There are fewer safety regulations in place and speed limits are often d-restricted. On rural routes drivers are much more likely to come across potential hazards. The narrow winding path of the roads does not always accommodate enough room for two cars to pass one another and the restricted vision of the road ahead can often prevent motorists from overtaking larger, slower vehicles, such as tractors and trailers.

In general the quality of the road is poorer than that of a motorway or urban road. Back roads are notorious for potholes and poor maintenance despite experiencing significant numbers of traffic passing through on a daily basis.

A report from 2010 found that over the course of the year, 1,043 people were involved in a fatal accident on rural roads in comparison to 113 on the motorway.

However, don’t let these facts and figures deter you from using them, a road can become much safer if you adapt your driving to suit the familiarity, location and potential hazards.

Whilst there are many dangerous roads across the UK, there is of course, a safest road.

The safest UK road is reported to be in Bath; drivers have half the rate of serious road accidents in comparison with the national average. At 51% lower, Bath’s rate of serious road incidents was the lowest across all of the UK.

Certain measurements can be taken to ensure you have a safe driving experience. As a driver recruitment agency, we would advise all drivers to leave plenty of time for a journey and to be aware of road surroundings. We ensure that all of our drivers undergo correct and intensive training to maintain a high quality of driving, helping to make the roads safer.

 

 

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HGV Drivers Push For Government Funding

With the election just months away, the recent budget was largely anticipated by many in the driving sector. Driver shortages have been well documented and with a growing demand amongst the freight industry, we are keen to see the Government’s support to help alleviate the issue.

The figures speak for themselves as in this year alone, it is now expected that there will be a demand for approximately 45,000-60,000 professionals drivers to supply goods across the country.

So where did this shortage of drivers come from?

HGV drivers are now required to carry out a compulsory test which will award them with a Driver Certificate of Professional Competence (CPC) once completed. The new test takes 35 hours to complete and could costs the individual £500.

However, failure to complete the training will result in a £1000 penalty. It’s estimated that this alone has already motivated more than 20,000 drivers to quit or take early retirement. This figure has put pressure on the industry, as without enough HGV drivers, our retailers and other businesses could potentially have ‘empty shelves’ leaving customers short of vital supplies.

To help reduce this pressure, the Road Haulage Association and the Freight Transport Association are pushing for the Government to offer funding that will provide training for a new generation of HGV drivers, with a specific focus on getting more women into the industry.

There is also a push to train younger drivers, particularly as recent research found the average age of a HGV driver is 53, much older than most industries. Only 2% of HGV drivers are under 25, while 13% are over 60 years old. The industry has asked for £150 million worth of training for thousands of drivers, urging the Government to act now before the shortage hits and affects the UK’s supply system.

As a compromise the Government has promised to review the speed at which driving and medical tests take place for HGV drivers and will consider how they can speed up this process. Funding support for the training will also be looked into, however this is not guaranteed.

At Drivers Direct we understand the need for more drivers and work with hundreds of clients across the UK to supply qualified drivers to meet their needs. As the freight industry continues to develop and the pressure on deliveries continues, we intend to continue to supply the best drivers, and provide training through our 21 branches. HGV driving can be rewarding and enjoyable career choice with the right training and support.

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