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Electrician gets driving ban for lying to police

Police have warned all firms with vans covered by commercial vehicle insurance to check on their drivers, after an electrician was stopped by police when they saw him using a mobile phone while driving a company van. Things then got worse for the driver as it turned out he had no driving licence.

When the case got to Plymouth Crown Court it was also revealed that Joseph Goulding, from Southampton, had even tried to fool the police by giving them his older brother’s details. Police told how the case got complicated when his brother was summonsed to court for the offence last year and when he failed to appear, a warrant was issued for his arrest.

The CPS (Crown Prosecution Service) says that at that point the brothers must have had a little chat because Joseph turned himself in at a police station and confessed. He later pleaded guilty to trying to pervert the course of justice, using a mobile at the wheel of the VW Transporter and driving without a licence. The court heard that following two previous convictions for drink-driving, Mr Goulding had been banned from the roads for three years in 2006. However, when the ban ended he did not bother to apply to get his licence back because his insurance premiums would have been so high.

Emma Birt, solicitor for Goulding, said “He acknowledges that what he did was extremely stupid and could have resulted in arrest and custody for his brother. He is a family man and has been offered a permanent job which depends on his ability to drive.”

Despite her pleading with the judge not to ban him, the judge told Goulding: “You gave the details of your older brother and he could well have found himself in a good deal of trouble.”

Goulding was jailed for six months (suspended for two years) and ordered him to do 150 hours of unpaid community work in the local area. He was banned for six months and warned: “If you drive in the next six months, you will be in serious trouble.”

Number of petrol thefts increase in East Yorkshire

Drivers are being urged to park their vehicles in safe areas after police officers report a big increase in fuel theft across Hull and the East Riding areas. Officers have described it as an emerging issue throughout the region and have linked it to the increases in fuel prices at the pumps.

In the last seven days police have dealt with eleven cases in Hull and seven in the East Riding area, compared with the usual rate of just two cases throughout the whole Humberside area. Police have said that the thieves are not just siphoning the fuel direct from the vehicles; they are also drilling into the petrol tanks to remove fuel. Firms with fleets of vans covered with commercial vehicle insurance have also been hit and are being urged to make sure all vans are in safe well lit areas during the night.

Thieves also recently siphoned diesel from the mobile youth bus belonging to a community group. Youth worker, Jonathan Smith, said “I went to pick up the bus from where it is stored and when I started it up I saw there was no diesel left in it. I looked in the tank because I thought there must have been a fault with the sensor, but it was bone dry.

“It is a really sad state of affairs when you can’t even leave fuel in your vehicle without having to worry about it being pinched. We all have to pay high petrol prices, but if it gets stolen it means you have to pay twice. You still have to find that money again.”

The AA are surprised by the increase of fuel theft and have warned the people who are doing this that apart from being a crime, it is also quite a dangerous practice, which may result in an explosion. Thefts from petrol forecourts are not as bad as in the past as many have now installed a lot of security measures to reduce the problem and it could be that those measures  have now driven criminals on to the streets.

Companies are increasing their business mileage

New research carried out has shown that firms are increasing their business mileage in an effort to keep customer relationships alive while at the same time continuing to operate in a highly competitive market.

Half of employees questioned said they have upped their business mileage in the last two years and a quarter are now driving over a 1,000 miles per month. Staff feel the main reason for driving hundreds of extra miles is because of the necessity to build better relationships with both customers and clients. One in five believes that in a period of financial austerity it is vital to have face to face meetings. They are convinced it gives them a stronger working relationship and thus puts them ahead of a firm that just deals via telephone contact.

While technology still plays a huge part in working lives, it’s no longer enough to rely on emails and phone calls to maintain a strong client relationship. Staff are getting out more as they try to find new custom, a quarter of those questioned say the geographical region they cover has also expanded. Even though fuel prices are increasing at an alarming rate, staff need to do the extra mileage to keep ahead of competitors.

Grant Capel, fleet director of Car and Van Rental who carried out the research, said “It’s great to hear that businesses recognise how face to face contact can positively impact on their customer relationships, particularly in this technology driven age.

“But this does mean that the cost of running a fleet covered by commercial vehicle insurance has increased. However, there are ways business can reduce the associated expenditure by encouraging staff to drive more economically, utilising vehicles with smaller-sized engines and lower CO2 emissions where appropriate and opting for flexible rental terms so the business only hires vehicles as and when needed.”

Kangoo jump starts the market

In a major boost for van manufacturer Renault, customers have already committed to buying their new Kangoo van six months before the vehicle hits the showrooms.

The new all electric Kangoo Van Z.E (Zero Emission) has seen long time customer JC Decaux order six of the vans this week. They will be the first people to get a commercial vehicle insurance quote on the new van and will probably be the first of many.

Although the new Kangoo is not due to make an appearance before the autumn, Renault report significant interest in the vehicle already. Private buyers, as well as big public organisations looking to acquire the greenest credentials for their fleets, seem to have heeded the publicity for the new van and can’t wait to see it.

The Kangoo Z.E is in fact very similar to the conventional Kangoo except of course for its emissions. It has the same look (apart from the exhaust) the same dimensions, the same payload and of course the same comfortable ride.

Darren Payne, a director of Renault UK, said “The fact that a company of JCDecaux’s size and reputation is investing in six Kangoo Van Z.E.s, is a fantastic third-party endorsement of our commitment to zero-emission vehicles.

“Renault will be the first manufacturer to offer a complete range of electric vehicles and this is a historic moment for us in the UK. I’ll look forward to handing over their Kangoo Van Z.E.s later in the year, and am certain they will not just prove their early adopter decision right, but also exceed expectations.”

It is a fact that manufacturers of electric vans are falling over themselves in the rush to get their products to the market first, as it is expected that the commercial market for electric vehicles will take off much quicker than that for private cars.

Local authorities in Nottingham join forces in effort to cut fleet costs

Six councils from across Nottingham have joined together and appointed Chevin Fleet Solutions to hopefully help them to cut unnecessary costs and reduce excess administration hours.

The six Councils are Bassetlaw, Gedling, Ashfield, Mansfield, Newark & Sherwood and Rushcliffe and are all part of the Nottingham Vehicle Consortium. The councils have acquired a new fleet management system which will examine the fleet operations and also streamline services. Chevin Fleet Solutions were selected for the job ahead of five others and will now enable the members of the six councils to benchmark their vehicles and other assets against each other for performance. All six fleets are covered by commercial vehicle insurance and they all hope to get even more from each van thanks to the new system.

Chevin Fleet Solutions pride themselves on improving the efficiency and visibility of a fleet operation regardless of size, by delivering key performance, fleet operating information direct to the main office which allows the company to drive out inefficiencies and improve fleet performance.

David Parton, from Gedling Borough Council, said “This is a great example of partnership working which will result in the council’s transport operations becoming more efficient by reducing the administrative burden related to transport information and with the ability to compare servicing and breakdown information on each Council’s operational performance, this will undoubtedly result in service improvements and cost reductions.”

Because of reduced budgets it is now vital that any organisation in the public sector investigates ways to reduce unnecessary expenditure throughout all departments. Together all six councils manages 3000 vehicles and pieces of equipment, so there is a huge potential to make significant savings. The new system is expected to start later this month with the information integrated into a centralised system that will give reports on mileage, fuel usage and accidents so that personnel can quickly identify the inefficiencies.

Van driver deflated after saying goodbye to two old friends

A van driver from Cumbria has parted company with a pair of old friends this week after being together for 7 years. The pair of friends was the rear tyres on his Citroen Relay van and believe it or not they had clocked up 350,000 miles before being retired from service.

Courier Bryan Davidson acquired the Michelin Agilis van tyres when he first took out commercial vehicle insurance on his brand new Citroen Relay HWB in 2004, and they have been his constant companions ever since, accompanying him on every trip his light haulage business has demanded he take. Although Bryan’s business has been centred around the UK and Europe the total miles covered by the tyres is enough to have gone round the world many times.

The Michelin Agilis tyres have been a popular choice of tyre amongst working van drivers for many years as they are made in a variety of sizes and target a market where reliability is an important factor. The Agilis Alpin variation of the tyre offers premium road holding in difficult driving conditions and is also a big favourite with hauliers and couriers in the UK.

Speaking about his special pair Mr Davidson said “I am amazed by the mileage achieved and there was actually still a reasonable amount of tread-life left in the tyres. The only reason I changed them was that I got a puncture in the left rear and decided to change the pair for peace-of-mind.” Apparently the front tyres on Bryan’s van were not quite up to scratch as he only managed to get 120,000 miles out of them!

Sat navs are sending drivers back to maps

Van drivers throughout the United Kingdom are falling out of love with their satellite navigation systems, branding them as untrustworthy, inaccurate and a cause of commercial vehicle insurance claims as drivers tamper with the device while driving.

A survey of 3000 drivers reported that sat navs are not always regarded as the driver’s friend. The research revealed that eight out of ten drivers have ignored the directions provided by the sat navs, believing them to be incorrect and much less efficient than the trusty old road map. Two thirds of drivers admit to having a “just in case” route map in the vehicle, either in book form or a print out from a route finder website, which indicates that despite huge technological advances in the last decade, motorists still have a reliance on the traditional methods to direct them to their location. Even delivery drivers say they have argued with co-drivers over directional instructions given out by their sat nav.

Steve Chelton, from the firm who carried out the research, said “A sat nav should aid your own navigational abilities rather than replace them. An in car sat nav is a helpful tool when embarking on a journey and many drivers gain benefit from using one. However, if used incorrectly or if a system is faulty, a sat nav can make a journey extremely stressful and much longer than it needs to be. To avoid any destination-related disasters, drivers need to make sure that they have spent time planning their journey in advance, and having a map as a backup is always a good idea.”

Drivers reported many sat nav mistakes, with the average distance they have been guided away from their intended destination being six miles, with 4% reporting they ended up over 21 miles from the desired location. It is highly recommended that a sat nav system is replaced every three years otherwise the system could become faulty and will not work effectively.

Van drivers not welcome in the fast or slow lane

A recent survey by a road safety organisation revealed van drivers as the most unpopular drivers on the motorways of the UK. The survey by GEM, the motoring and road safety organisation, concentrated on what drivers considered to be the most dangerous manoeuvres carried out on the country’s motorways by other drivers.

There was no surprise that tailgating and the use of mobile phones came in as the top two most dangerous activities bad drivers get up to. However, it really doesn’t matter if he has up to date commercial vehicle insurance and that his mode of transport is scrupulously clean and well maintained, the White Van Man syndrome still affects drivers. Many said van drivers hogging the overtaking lane was highly dangerous and should be stopped. At the other end of the scale, slow van drivers were also viewed as highly dangerous.

A spokesman for Safe Speed said: “When people are driving they should drive to the conditions around them. If someone is driving under the speed limit in a 30mph zone then it probably will not be a problem. If they are driving on a motorway at 50mph it can be an issue and it suggests that they have a lack of confidence. I would say that speeding on fast roads is still an issue, but it is a driver’s awareness of what is around them that prevents collisions.”

In another part of the survey, seven out of ten drivers said they do not take any extra precautions before using the motorway. GEM advises that both the tyre pressure and water levels need to be checked before stating a motorway journey and be fully aware of the dangers, a fact that all professional van drivers would agree with.

Cameras turned back on and it’s no joke

Van drivers in and around Oxfordshire will have to be on their mettle once again this morning, as an old foe has once more raised its head. Although many van drivers listening to the news this morning may have thought it was an April fool’s Day joke it is in fact true that Thames Valley Police have turned back on all 72 of their fixed site road cameras.

It will be the first time since August 2010 that motorists in the County will be under surveillance from roadside cameras and the spectre of higher commercial vehicle insurance quotes for some drivers with points on their driving licence will once more be a possibility.

The cameras were turned off originally because of cuts to the Road Safety budget by the Government. However, statistics show that road accidents and the number of people killed in them has risen dramatically since the cameras were shut down. The number of people killed in accidents is particularly disturbing as it has risen by 50%.

Rob Povey, head of roads policing for the Thames Valley force, said “We think this is important because we know that speed kills and speed is dangerous.

“We have shown in Oxfordshire that speed has increased through monitoring limits and we have noticed an increase in fatalities and the number of people seriously injured in 2010. We know that speed enforcement does work as a deterrent to motorists.”

The figures make it difficult to argue with the decision and it is a question now of how many other police forces and Local Authorities follow the same path when it comes to road safety.

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