By Mark Cartwright, Head of Vans and Light Commercial Vehicles, FTA

With fatigue a contributing factor in around 30 per cent of fatal incidents on the UK's roads, van drivers must understand the dangers of driving while drowsy; equally, employers must adopt a strict no tolerance rule. But with 40 per cent of all car, van and lorry drivers admitting to driving while tired, it is clear there is much more work to be done.

With the help of Marcus de Guingand, Managing Director of Third Pillar of Health, who spoke at our recent Van Excellence Operational Briefings, let's look at some of the ways fatigue can affect a person – both in the short and long term – and as you'll see, the symptoms go well beyond simply feeling drowsy:

  • Reduced energy, alertness, vigilance and productivity
  • Stress, mood shifts, irritability and strained relationships
  • Daytime drowsiness and microsleeps
  • Reduced vocabulary and poor communication skills

It is easy to see how fatigue can impact work performance, and in particular, our ability to drive safely. The Third Pillar of Health encourages any company whose employees operate vans to adopt a strict no tolerance approach to driving while tired. This should include intervening when a driver appears too tired to drive, and reviewing internal policies and procedures to ensure drowsy driving is prohibited and the ban maintained.

Of course, van drivers must also take responsibility for themselves; they can stay safe by spotting the warning signs of tiredness  early – such as frequent yawning and eyelids drooping – and taking evasive action as soon as possible. For advice on how drivers can overcome tiredness while already on the road, please scroll down the webpage to our August blog.

Posted: 17/10/2019 09:00:00 by Freya Penny | with 0 comments

By Mark Cartwright, Head of Vans and Light Commercial Vehicles, FTA

Remember, remember the fifth of November; fireworks can be dangerous and it is important you check the regulations governing their transportation ahead of the big night. Fireworks are explosives, after all, and can cause significant damage to property and people; they must be treated with respect. If you are planning to move fireworks or any associated paraphernalia, this blog is for you.

Your load consignment could be anything from sparklers to full pyrotechnics; these all have different requirements so make sure you obtain specialist advice before you transport any item. But whatever the type of product or its quantity, there are a few basic rules to remember.

Firstly, store any items in a cool, dry place before moving them, and stack them carefully when inside the vehicle – do not leave room for them to slide about or crash into other boxes. And do not pack fireworks with other items; leave them in their original packaging as it is optimised for their transportation.

Make sure the interior of your vehicle is well ventilated, so that fireworks stay dry inside. Condensation and moisture can ruin a celebration night if your firework becomes nothing more than a damp squib!

As with any cargo, fireworks must be loaded securely, and not left to slide around on the floor of the van, or, even worse, to fall from racking. Remember what you are carrying when driving around: no sudden movements, overly-sharp braking or surging acceleration, all of which could dislodge your cargo and cause a potential incident.

It's also worth remembering that fireworks are now a year round fixture at parties and weddings, so you may be called on to move them at other times in the year. If it is going to be a regular occurrence, it would be worthwhile obtaining specialist training on how to do so, and the regulations involved. FTA’s Training Team provides such training – to find out more visit


Posted: 01/10/2019 09:15:05 by Freya Penny | with 0 comments

By Mark Cartwright, Head of Vans and Light Commercial Vehicles, FTA

Hindsight is a wonderful thing and often we all wish we could have seen into the future. FTA is here to offer the perfect solution with our brand new one-day conference ‘Future Van 2019’. Held at the NAEC in Stoneleigh, Warwickshire on 3 October 2019, the event promises to be a favourite amongst operators, manufacturers and industry leaders.

The conference – sponsored by Mercedes-Benz Vans – is the perfect event for those who are unsure what lies on the road ahead and will be headlined by expert futurologist Fergus McVey from 7th Sense Research.  Armed with extensive research, his sessions will give attendees the knowledge needed to embrace the ever-evolving world of vans and stay ahead of the competition. In the past you may have been forgiven for laughing at the idea of connected vans that can ‘talk’ to each other. However, with this set to become an everyday reality, McVey will be discussing the opportunities and challenges that these technological developments present.

Bringing together some of the most innovative minds in the industry, the event – also sponsored by Bott, Brigade Electronics, Hertz, Lex Autolease and Quartix – will feature a diverse panel of speakers discussing everything from driverless to electric vans, drones and even last mile technology.

With environmental pressure and soaring consumer demand causing monumental changes in the van market, make sure you stay miles ahead with all the up-to-date information. The price to attend the conference is £295.00 + VAT for members or £350.00 + VAT for non-members. Tickets for this event look set to sell out. Ensure you secure your place today by visiting

Posted: 23/09/2019 16:11:50 by Freya Penny | with 0 comments

By Mark Cartwright, Head of Vans and Light Commercial Vehicles, FTA

As autumn begins to draw in, it'll soon be time to say goodbye to the long, sunny days we have become accustomed to. These changing conditions – darker mornings and evenings, increased rainfall, and a lower sun – can bring challenges which we all need to be aware of to ensure we keep operating safely as the seasons change.


With the sun sitting lower in the sky during the autumn months, it is vital that your field of vision is as clear as possible. Make sure there is nothing on your dashboard; there should be no coffee cups, maps, delivery notes, or anything else that could get in the way of your view out of the cab.  Make sure the glass is clean, inside and out, before setting off, and allow extra time to your journey if the conditions require a blast from the demister. And remember to always keep a pair of sunglasses in the cab, as the low angle of the sun can be difficult to deal with at this time of year.


After long periods of dry weather, the roads can become slippery at the first dew or rainfall, thanks to deposits of rubber on the roads. Take extra care when driving at this time of year, and allow sufficient braking distance to make sure you are completely safe.


Visibility, both of your vehicle and of other road users, is more challenging as autumn moves into winter.  Check all your lights are working correctly, and keep all of them clean – spray from the road and other dirt can limit their effectiveness.  Always use indicators when turning, to ensure that other vehicles are aware of your intentions.  Keep alert to other road users too – more vulnerable road users like cyclists and motorcyclists can be more difficult to spot when the light is failing, so take extra time to check before pulling out.  And be aware that reflective road surfaces, combined with damp or wet driving conditions, can make it very difficult to see things clearly, particularly at multi-point junctions or away from main roads with good lighting. Check and check again before manoeuvring to ensure that all road users can keep moving as safely as possible

Posted: 03/09/2019 09:54:06 by Freya Penny | with 0 comments

By Mark Cartwright, Head of Vans and Light Commercial Vehicles, FTA  

How many of us carry on driving when we're struggling to stay awake? We know that 40 per cent of all car, van and lorry drivers do. But driving while tired is very dangerous; it's the cause of around 20 per cent of all collisions on the UK's roads. It is of the utmost importance, then, that businesses enforce a strict no tolerance rule to driving while drowsy.  

With the help of Marcus de Guingand, Managing Director of Third Pillar of Health, who spoke at our recent Van Excellence Operational Briefings, let's look at some warning signs  – some more subtle than others – that it's time for you to take a rest when you're on the road: 

  • Frequent yawning and eyelids drooping 

  • Straining your eyes to focus on the road 

  • Memory lapses or frequently hitting the rumble strips 

If you experience any of these symptoms, you are at risk of microsleeping – dozing off for up to two seconds – which can result in a total loss of alertness. And if you consider that a vehicle driving at 56 miles per hour will travel 25 metres per second, it's easy to see how dangerous microsleeping can be.  

Van drivers can stay safe by spotting the warning signs early and taking evasive action as soon as possible. But contrary to common belief, winding down the window, turning up the music, or talking to a passenger are not effective countermeasures.  

Instead, drivers should adopt a more long-term approach to fatigue prevention. Here are six measures recommended by the Third Pillar of Health: 

  • Obtain adequate sleep before a journey 

  • Avoid driving in the early morning 

  • Take a nap before a journey 

  • Change drivers (providing the new driver is alert) 

  • Drink a caffeinated drink and immediately take a 15 to 20 minute nap 

  • Pull over to a roadside hotel to sleep 

We'll be sharing a series of blogs on the topic of fatigue – watch this space for the next installment. In the meantime, stay safe! 

Posted: 01/08/2019 09:00:00 by Els Matthews | with 0 comments