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If you think checking a driver's licence entitlements when he is first employed means you've ticked the box for due diligence, think again. Drivers have a duty to inform their employer of any changes that could affect their work but equally employers must take responsibility for their staff's competence on a day-to-day basis.

Have you put processes in place that will identify if a driver has received points on his licence while driving his own vehicle? Or if medication he is taking could impact on his ability to drive? Identifying driver impairments and checking fitness to drive are crucial to every transport operation and it's important to establish a robust checking process.

One way to check drivers on a regular basis is to add questions to their daily walk round check, either on paper or on an app. Questions such as 'have you had an alcoholic drink in the last 12 hours?' or 'have you started taking any medication that could affect your ability to drive?' offer an opportunity to remind employees of their obligations and open up discussions if you suspect they are not fit to drive.

The Van Excellence film 'One Fateful Day' highlights the potential impact of driver distraction for the driver, operations manager and company owner. A van driver who has taken drugs is involved in a fatal collision with a child and the film explores the devastating consequences. 

Posted: 26/06/2017 11:17:58 by Global Administrator | with 0 comments


On 1 March 2017 the Government doubled the penalties for using a hand-held mobile phone while driving to six penalty points and a £200 fine. Vocational drivers may have their entitlements suspended by the Traffic Commissioner and newly-qualified drivers will automatically lose their licence under the points system.

Drivers who use mobile phones are now also liable to prosecution for the more serious offences of careless or dangerous driving if it can be proved that an offence was caused by failure to have proper control of the vehicle due to distraction. Penalties for careless and dangerous driving are substantially higher than for the specific mobile phone offence.

Using a mobile phone while driving has been an offence since 1 December 2003 and this applies to any type of phone use - calls, texts, emails, photos, internet access and streaming. Holding the phone in any way - for example, cradled between chin and shoulder or held between the knees - is also an offence. The Department for Transport's Think! campaign which was launched to coincide with the increased penalties suggested mobile phones should be stored in the glove box while driving to prevent distraction.

Using a mobile phone with a hands free kit can also be an offence if the driver is distracted or does not have proper control of the vehicle at the time. The penalty is the same - six points and a £200 fine - so employers should carefully consider whether their staff should be expected to take calls on the move. Employers, managers, colleagues and callers may be legally implicated when a driver uses a mobile phone as causing, permitting aiding or abetting the infringement are also an offence.

@vanexcellence

FTA has now published a new Use of Mobile Phones Whilst Driving briefing note that details the update to legislation and guidance for employers (Available to FTA Members only).

For access to a wide range of specialist van and truck Sat Navs, as well as safety and compliance products, visit the FTA Shop.

(The views and opinions expressed by the authors of these blogs are theirs alone, and do not necessarily reflect those of the Freight Transport Association)

Posted: 24/03/2017 12:06:51 by Global Administrator | with 0 comments


As normal service resumes in to the new year, some employers may notice their drivers have received new electronic gadgets such as a mobile phones, satellite navigation devices and iPods as Christmas presents.

Now is a perfect time to remind drivers of the company policy for using such devices in a safe and legal manner and of the regulations and potential penalties for non-compliance. Areas of legislation to be aware of are as follows.

Mobile phones

It is an offence to use a mobile phone whilst driving. The Construction and Use Regulations 1986, Regulation 110(1) and (2) state:

1. No person shall drive a motor vehicle on a road if he is using –
a. A hand-held mobile telephone; or
b. A hand-held device of a kind specified in paragraph (4)
2. No person shall cause or permit any other person to drive a motor vehicle on a road while that person is using –
a. A hand-held mobile telephone; or
b. A hand-held device of a kind specified in paragraph (4)

The penalty for driving a vehicle whilst using a hand-held mobile phone or other hand-held communication device (other than a two-way radio) is a fine of £100 plus three penalty points on the driver's licence.

Most drivers are aware of this but drivers could also be prosecuted for failing to have proper control of the vehicle, or the more serious offence of dangerous driving and this could happen not only when the driver is holding a mobile phone but also when using a hands-free device

Satellite navigation devices

The Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) regulations 1986, section 104 (drivers control) states:
'no person shall drive or cause or permit any other person to drive, a motor vehicle on a road if he is in such a position that he cannot have proper control of the vehicle or have a full view of the road ahead’.

The Road Traffic Act 1988, section 41D states;
A person who contravenes or fails to comply with a construction and use requirement:

a. as to not driving a motor vehicle in a position which does not give proper control or a full view of the road and traffic ahead, or not causing or permitting the driving of a motor vehicle by another person in such a position, or

b. As to not driving or supervising the driving of a motor vehicle while using a hand-held mobile telephone or other hand-held interactive communication device, or not causing or permitting the driving of a motor vehicle by another person using such a telephone or other device, is guilty of an offence.

Under the fixed penalty offences, a driver can be fined £60 plus three penalty points on their licence for a breach of a requirement to control the vehicle. If the driver holds a vocational entitlement on their licence, this could also lead to a driver conduct hearing before the Traffic Commissioner at which point the driver’s vocational entitlement could be suspended for a period of time.

It is imperative that drivers are aware of the consequences of not complying with the regulations surrounding the safe use of such devices whilst driving.

In-car/cab cameras

There has been a large increase in the number of in-car or in-cab cameras being used but again it is important to use these cameras both sensibly and legally as drivers could again find themselves subject to a financial penalty. For companies installing cameras in their vehicles, it is important to ensure they comply with the requirements of the Data Protection Act. This does not mean companies cannot install the cameras but they must use and process the data in a correct manner as specified in the act.

On a more general note, the actual fitment within the vehicle must also be legally compliant. The Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations 1986, regulation 30(1) states:

‘Every motor vehicle shall be so designed and constructed that the driver thereof while controlling the vehicle can at all times have a full view of the road and traffic ahead of the motor vehicle’

This means that there should be nothing attached to the windscreen or placed in front of the windscreen that could be deemed to obscure the driver’s view of the road.

From an enforcement perspective, any device or sticker should not encroach into the swept area more than 40mm and there should be nothing encroaching on the area of windscreen directly in front of the driver. So any camera fitted to the windscreen inside a vehicle must not encroach more than 40mm into the swept area.

Another similar device to a camera is a driver monitor which monitors both the driver and the road to the front of the vehicle. A driver monitor is classed as an acceptable feature and their presence within the swept area of the windscreen is accepted, provided the installation does not seriously impair the driver’s view of the road.

Failure to comply with the requirements to fit any devices or place stickers on the windscreen so as not to encroach more than 40mm and/or obscure the drivers view of the road ahead can result in a penalty of £50.
 
FTA offers a wider range of services, including Van Services, to keep your operation running smoothly as well as a wide range of safety and compliance products in our Shop. 
 
(The views and opinions expressed by the authors of these blogs are theirs alone, and do not necessarily reflect those of the Freight Transport Association)

Posted: 18/01/2017 12:24:39 by Global Administrator | with 0 comments


Sometimes in life you meet somebody with such a positive attitude in circumstances that would make most people crumble into a world of self-pity.

Elaine Corner is one of those positive people, and whilst I'm sure most readers will never have heard of her - she is one of the singularly most impressive people I've ever met.

Elaine was introduced to FTA when we were planning the content for our recent Van Excellence Operational Briefings, and she agreed to speak to our audiences about the day that changed her life.

By way of background, Elaine served in the military for many years. She has, as you'd expect, a very confident and forthright personality with a zest for life. She strode on to our stage and in a very matter of fact way told our audience about her love of riding her motorbike.

One morning she was out on her bike near her home in Wiltshire, when a van from a very well-known commercial fleet, pulled out on the road straight in front of her. The driver hadn't seen Elaine - he was on the phone - in breach of his company's policy.

The accident literally changed Elaine's life in a split second, all because that driver thought that taking a phone call was more important than paying full attention to the road. That decision cost him £600 and 6 points on his licence. It cost Elaine her leg and her career.

It's worth noting that no legal action was taken against the company even though they had previously reprimanded the driver for using his mobile. This probably wouldn’t be the case now with the Health & Safety Executive making the intention very clear that it will be looking more closely at work related road incidents and, with the recent changes to the sentencing guidelines for Health and Safety prosecutions, the penalties are potentially severe.

If this incident had been prosecuted under the new guidelines there is every chance that the driver, culpable managers and directors would have been looking at custodial sentences and the company looking at a considerable fine.

If you and importantly your directors aren't aware of these guidelines then you should be!

Elaine now works tirelessly to promote road safety, and speaks passionately and openly about the potential consequences of drivers not paying full attention to what they're doing behind the wheel.

So - next time you decide to just take that call - think again - you could change someone's life forever.

Take a look at Elaine speaking at FTA’s Safety in Logistics conference:



(The views and opinions expressed by the authors of these blogs are theirs alone, and do not necessarily reflect those of the Freight Transport Association)

Posted: 18/10/2016 14:52:52 by Global Administrator | with 0 comments


A baby grand piano descends through the air against the backdrop of an ominous grey sky. Two male boxers square up to one another inside the ring of a dimly lit studio gym. Two rams prepare to dual at the cliff edge of a snowy mountain top as the title credit reads: Things you shouldn’t get caught between.

This is the opening sequence to the new THINK! cycle safety campaign. But what does a piano, boxing and rams have to do with cycle safety you might ask? Well, nothing really. It’s what they represent that’s important: the moment before impact, being caught between two things – a place you don’t want to be.

This is the simple idea behind our cycle safety campaign. We want to remind cyclists of the dangers of getting between a lorry and a left hand turn – the area where one third of collisions between cyclists and lorries happen. Our advice to cyclists is ‘Don’t get between a lorry and a left hand turn. Hang back’.

In the last 5 years, 104 cyclists have been killed in accidents involving an HGV. Startlingly, this accounts for nearly 20% of all cycling fatalities – revealing that HGVs present one of the largest dangers to cyclists on the road. Better mirrors, proximity sensors and blind spot cameras are making driving safer, but technology improvements will never replace the judgement and expertise of you – the driver – behind the wheel.

Taking a proactive approach to improving the safety of everyone on the roads – beyond regulation requirements – is high on the agenda for the freight and haulage industry. Safe driving practices are an integral part of your professional development. Looking out for vulnerable road users is second nature to you. You might be ‘tyred’ (pun intended) of the hearing the same message, but THINK! is all about encouraging each and every one of us to think about our behaviour on the roads.

You know the drill. You know to check your vehicle before you set off. You know what to look out for in your mirrors. You know that you should never overtake a cyclist on the approach to a junction. You know to pull up behind cyclists at a junction rather than alongside them. And you know to give them space when you overtake. But knowing and doing – each and every single time – are two very different things.

So next time you’re out on the road and you see a junction approaching, take extra time to look out for cyclists. Being attuned (get it?!) to the risk of pianos falling from the sky is not something that drivers need to be aware of, but as the number of cyclists on the road increase, being vigilant to the movements of riders at junctions is the only way to avoid the potential devastating consequences of a collision. THINK! Take extra time to look out for cyclists.


 
(The views and opinions expressed by the authors of these blogs are theirs alone, and do not necessarily reflect those of the Freight Transport Association)

Posted: 26/09/2016 14:27:55 by Global Administrator | with 0 comments