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Glasgow Council Extends Fleet

Glasgow City Council has added to their already extensive fleet of 200 Fiat Professional light commercial vehicles and now has 31 new Doblo Work Up factory-fitted drop side conversions. They have been added to be used by a few different maintenance departments such as roads and winter, cleansing and parks and homecare.

This is great news for the public as well as the council as there will now be more vehicles in the Glasgow region to deal with maintenance issues which will mean that the roads kept in better condition, this will help others save money on their commercial vehicle insurance. This will be done by the quality of the roads being increased and therefore less claims for damage. Continue reading

Van sales show signs of recovery

Commercial vehicle insurance providers will have taken note of the small increase in van sales in the month of September and hope it heralds a bright last quarter of 2012 for a market that has been in the doldrums.

Although the percentage increase in van sales was nowhere near the heady 8% car manufacturers experienced, it was still better than the previous few months and the 1.1% increase meant that over 39,000 new vans were registered in the month. The slight increase was not enough to disguise disappointing rolling year figures though with final figures coming in at 247,536 whereas previously the figure had been over a quarter of a million. Year to date statistics show a decrease of 6.3% on 2011.

Industry insiders will still greet the small increase warily as, after all September is a month where the new plate kick start comes in to play, but an increase is an increase and with several manufacturing and industrial bodies suggesting the UK is at long last coming out of recession there are hopes this could herald a brighter future. Certainly Chief Executive of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, Paul Everitt, saw the figures positively, saying “The September plate change provided enough of a boost to stabilise van demand in a challenging economic environment. Light vans and pickups reversed recent declines, recording rises of 8.8 and 17.2 per cent respectively.”

There was certainly no surprise in which van turned out to be the month’s best selling van. Once again it was the Ford Transit taking almost one fifth of the market. Incredibly year to date figures show the Transit has sold over three times the amount of its nearest challenger.

Motorists in the dark on new parking law

Van drivers and in particular delivery drivers will rest a little easier from now on as October 1st heralded a new law drastically reducing the chances of being clamped.

The new laws apply in England and Wales and will make the practice of clamping cars on private land by private clamping firms illegal. It is a giant step forward for motorists in general but must be a major relief for drivers attempting to make deliveries in awkward locations where they have little local knowledge. It is surprising then that a survey carried out by the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) found that many drivers have a very sketchy understanding of the new laws. Over 2,000 motorists, many with commercial vehicle insurance cover, were questioned in the IAM operation and the results were surprising to say the least.

Nine out of ten drivers were unaware that the new law will require vehicle owners to release details of drivers of their vehicle who have parked illegally on private land and only half realised that companies chasing payment of parking tickets can insist that the DVLA sell individual vehicle licensing details to them to aid their payment demands. Only 10% of respondents knew about the implementation of an appeals procedure for those who feel they have been wrongly ticketed for parking on private land which probably explains the high number of people (60%) of drivers who pay the fine even if they think it is unjust.

Simon Best, Chief Executive of IAM, believes the Government have been found lacking in informing the public of the changes to parking law. He said: “The changes this month have been put in place for the benefit of motorists but they need to know who they can turn to if they feel that they have been treated unfairly. The new system has potential to deliver a fair parking system, but only if the industry ensures that the spirit of the legislation is enacted as well as the detail. Any remaining rogue operators must be dealt with swiftly. Road users need to understand the rules of parking in order to abide by them, and industry and government information about the new system is woefully inadequate.”

Auction of old Ford van causing a stir in the Dales

One of the most famous delivery vans of all time will be coming up for auction in the next few weeks, and collectors of model cars can hardly contain their excitement.

The old Ford Model 8 van, once belonging to C Pearson and advertising his quality carpets, is expected to attract bidders from all over the world when it comes up for auction in Thornton-le-dale near Pickering North Yorkshire. The majority of bidders although never having held a commercial vehicle insurance policy in their life will own a van that looks exactly the same, although somewhat smaller. It is of course the van that was used by miniature car manufacturers Corgi to represent the Ford Model 8 van in their iconic miniature replica vehicle collection that is known throughout the world and still has thousands of devotees.

The van is now owned by the Mathewson family in North Yorkshire and the van will be auctioned at their Classic Car Garage and Motor Museum business. They expect interest worldwide and anticipate the van going for something in the region of £6,000.

Derek Mathewson, a keen classic car collector, said “It’s quite famous in as much as anyone who has a full Corgi collection will have this van, it has got to be the most well-known Ford 8 van in the country because of the model. There’s an awful lot of people in this area who will know Clive Pearson Carpets and will know of the van. They are quite an unusual van in so much as there was quite a lot made but they were not robust vehicles and most of these vehicles would have been scrapped by the time they were ten years old. I do not know how many that there will be on the register but I cannot imagine there being more than a hundred or maybe fifty left. They were the Ford Escort of their day and the Post Office and people like that would have had them; butchers shops, bakers and places like that would have used them for their deliveries – they were ideal delivery vans. I would imagine an enthusiast would buy it.”

The van is still in its famous green livery and the Matthewsons who have been dealing in classic cars for a generation can’t wait for the auction day to dawn.

Congestion is the pet hate of the majority of van drivers

According to research carried out by satellite navigation experts TomTom, nine out of ten commercial van drivers have admitted to arriving late for customer appointments with traffic cited as the major cause by 94%. The survey, conducted among van drivers operating as part of a company fleet, found 27% of drivers are late at least three times each day.

Out of the 3,000 drivers questioned 96% claimed traffic had a major impact on their daily job schedule, with 81% stating congestion was a regular source of disruptions. The research also discovered 52% of van drivers feel stressed because of traffic congestion. The top two reasons traffic causes stress to the drivers are frustrated at being stuck (63%) and the inconvenience caused to customers by arriving late (21%). Traffic congestion puts significant pressure on van drivers, causing missed deadlines, disruption to their work schedule and disappointment among customers.

Thomas Schmidt, managing director, TomTom Business Solutions, said “Our latest research reveals traffic is a serious obstacle preventing service and delivery firms from attaining first-class standards of customer service. Clearly, the majority of businesses operating a mobile workforce face a major struggle to meet customer expectations but although traffic cannot be controlled, its effect can certainly be mitigated. Advanced fleet management systems, incorporating live traffic information, allow companies to plan around delays and dispatch employees to jobs based on quickest arrival times, not simply who are closest to the customer.”

In recent years advanced fleet management technology has provided the tools needed to alleviate stress and make the job of the driver a lot easier. Companies have benefited as well, and the chances of a company who care for their drivers claiming on the company commercial van insurance policy due to an accident are smaller than those who pay no regard to their driver’s welfare. Smarter routing means less frustration, while careful planning will take into account the journey time for specific routes at different times of the day. This means customers can be provided with accurate estimated time of arrival as well as being informed if there are any delays.

Fleet managers need to ensure both van and drivers are in tip-top condition

Research has suggested that the vast majority of fleet managers are not doing enough to make sure their company van drivers have their eyesight tested at regular intervals. Having good eyesight is a basic requirement of safe driving, however many firms do not have policies in place for testing eyesight and even fewer promote the importance of good vision.

It is possible for a driver to suffer vision reduction of up to 40% before they notice a problem and it is because of this reason that experts recommend drivers have an eyesight test at least every two years. Sadly too many drivers do not follow the advice and each year in the United Kingdom, according to the Royal National Institute for the Blind, around 12 million people who are due an eyesight test do not have one. Employers automatically ensure the vehicle is fit for the road and they are being urged to make sure the driver is also fit for the road. This means ensuring their eyesight is good enough for driving; otherwise it could result in an accident and a claim on the commercial van insurance policy, not to mention having the vehicle off the road while it is being repaired.

The Fleet Safety Forum surveyed fleet managers throughout the UK on their road risk management practices. They discovered that 42% surveyed do not offer eyesight testing for their drivers through a company scheme and 56% have no record of when their drivers last had their eyes tested. Eyesight can deteriorate gradually over time, particularly for those drivers aged 40 and over and the only sure way to pick up on this is to have regular eye tests.

Suzanne Randall, corporate account manager at Specsavers Corporate Eye Care, said “These statistics are a great worry to us and alas also back up what we find in our own research. It is imperative that drivers have eyesight that is good enough for driving. Eyesight requirements for driving are quite particular: peripheral vision is important, as well as the ability to refocus between near and far objects, such as the instruments on the dashboard and road signs in the distance.”

Haulage industry set for high value, low carbon trials

Commercial van insurance providers should be amongst those to benefit from a £23 million demonstration initiative that will be aimed at haulage and delivery firms.

The scheme which will have £11 million of Government backing will try and encourage the UK’s haulage industry to use energy efficient, low carbon vehicles. The demonstration programme stems from the launching of a competition by the Department for Transport (DfT) and the Technology Strategy Board (TSB) back in April 2012. The trial programme is now expected to have over 300 low carbon vehicles take part in the various demonstrations and 13 of the UK’s leading companies will also play a part, including; John Lewis, Tesco, Robert Wiseman Dairies, United Biscuits and the BOC Group.

Transport Minister Mike Penning is enthusiastic about the forthcoming trials saying: “There has been a great response to this competition from industry, and the successful projects bring together a range of partners, including fleet operators, vehicle converters, gas hub providers and universities. These trials will reduce CO2 emissions from freight and provide important information from a range of real-life situations that will increase industry confidence in low carbon trucks in the long term.”

Over £2 million of the funding will be targeted at making the use of LPG more accessible to fleet companies by extending the number of refuelling stations across the UK. There will be at least another 11 gas refuelling stations that will allow members of the public to refill as well as the companies taking part in the trials. The demonstration programme is anticipated to last two years and all data will be carefully logged to allow the DfT to get a definitive picture of how the haulage industry can benefit from low carbon vans.

£60,000 Worth of Damage Caused

Mindless vandals have caused £60,000 worth of damage after they stole a truck and then used it as a battering ram to smash up fifteen other vehicles. The vandals who are thought to be teenagers went on the rampage as they staged their very own demolition derby.

The destruction began soon after the youngsters broke into a yard, which is home to a plumbing firm in Congleton, where they stole a large pick-up truck. They then sped around crashing into vans which were parked in the yard.

Paul Jenkins who owns the business said: “In one night, these vandals managed to cause about £60,000 worth of damage. They smashed their way into a locked garage and stole the keys for a pick-up truck. Then they took the truck and went on the rampage, driving it around the yard. Every single bit of glass in fifteen commercial vans was smashed, with three of the vehicles being written off. It will be four when you count the stolen pick-up truck as well. There was also damage to some of the brickwork and the garage doors. You can see cracks right up the building.”

CCTV cameras vividly captured the drama which was obviously premeditated as within five minutes of the break-in the joyriders set about wrecking the vans. The damage was not discovered until Sunday morning when Mr Jenkins went to pick up some papers from his office and now he is counting the cost. He has had problems with vandalism in the past but nothing on this kind of scale. The CCTV footage shows the whole episode lasted for almost an hour. Mr Jenkins is also looking at an increase in his commercial van insurance premiums because of the actions of the vandals. Police are appealing for anyone with information to come forward because they fear that next time they may do the same thing but on the roads of Congleton.

Government to Bring in New Rules that will Force Companies to Disclose Emissions

Fleet managers will be obliged to report their company’s greenhouse gas emissions from 2013. The new law will put the environmental performance of vans under greater scrutiny, and in fact the United Kingdom is the first country to make it compulsory for businesses to include emissions data for their entire fleet of cars and vans, in their yearly report.

To start with, the new legislation will affect only 1000 businesses listed on the main market of the London Stock Exchange from April 2013. The new regulations will then be reviewed in 2015 and it is this review that will be crucial in deciding whether to extend the approach to all companies from 2016. The new rules come on top of the Carbon Reduction Commitment which is an environmental tax that the Treasury plans to introduce next year. The United Kingdom is committed to cutting its carbon emissions to 50% of 1990 levels by 2025.

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said: “British companies need to reduce their harmful emissions for the benefit of the planet, but many back our plans because being energy efficient makes good business sense too. It saves businesses money on energy bills, improves their reputation with customers and helps them manage long-term costs.”

Fleet managers are being urged take notice now because the process of changing the fleet mix and its governing policy is going to take some time. This is a serious undertaking and will require an active role for the fleet manager in many organisations that have vans protected by commercial van insurance. Greenhouse gases are causing climate changes that are in turn leading to temperature increases, sea level rises and changes to patterns of drought and flooding. A number of large companies are in contact with the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs to try and make sure that the process is done fairly and will not present a huge administrative burden for them.

Citroen Happy to be Three Years Ahead of Compliance Date

Fleet managers throughout the UK will be delighted to hear that Citroen will now fit the Trafficmaster Smartnav system as standard on all of their panel vans. Systems of this type will be mandatory on new vehicles from 2015 but Citroen has decided to comply three years early.

The latest Trafficmaster Smartnav system will be fitted as standard on all Berlingo, Dispatch and Relay panel vans from now on. Vans using the system will have the advantage of both satellite and voice communications which allows the driver to get help if their van is involved in an accident or if there is a medical emergency. Unlike some systems that have been in the news recently where an E-Call may go unnoticed, Trafficmaster will be monitoring E-Calls from Smartnav systems 24 hours a day, seven days a week. When the driver of a new Citroen van touches the SOS icon on the screen, the vans location is transmitted instantly to Trafficmaster who will then liaise with the emergency services. Details will also be transmitted to the fleet manager who after making sure the driver is not harmed can quickly inform the commercial van insurance company of the accident.

Pat Gallagher, Trafficmaster’s director for in-vehicle products, said: “Very often when an incident occurs on a motorway or trunk road, the driver doesn’t know their precise location – at best it might be between two junctions. With any other system this could add vital minutes to emergency teams arriving at the scene. But, with the Trafficmaster system automatically transmitting this information, we can remove any confusion about the driver’s location and get help to them in the fastest time possible. The controller can continue to monitor the E-Call until the emergency services arrive on the scene and have the situation under control.”

Citroen feel this type of service is vital to their customers as it will enable them to fulfil their statutory Duty of Care towards their drivers who are vital to a business. To date over 65,000 Citroen Berlingo, Dispatch and Relay panel vans have been fitted with Trafficmaster Smartnav. Other benefits purported to come via the system include up to 12% improvement in fuel economy and up to 12% reduction in running costs.

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W E Bedford Insurance Services Ltd, Argent House, Argent Court, Hook Rise South,
Tolworth, KT6 7LD is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.
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