Commercial vehicle owners who use their vehicles for their jobs know that it is extremely important to keep them well maintained and to make sure that they adheres to the road safety laws. Police and local councils are usually extremely strict when it comes to commercial vehicles, especially larger ones as if they are not well maintained then they can be extremely dangerous on the road and can even cause accidents. This is why police in Peacehaven, Sussex recently stopped a number of commercial vehicles in order to make sure they were all fit for the road. Continue reading
Between the 9th and the 11th of April the annual Commercial Vehicle show will be held at Birmingham’s NEC, where commercial manufacturers from across the world will gather and present both their current models and those that they are planning to release in the near future. Fiat is just one manufacturer that will be appearing at the show, and they will be pulling out all the stops by presenting seven of its vehicle’s, three of which will be debuting in the UK for the first time.
Fiat will include a ‘technology’ corner in their stand where visitors will be able to see the Fiat Professional product data system (PDS2), as well as the Fiat Professional mobile website and the company’s new and improved website for desktops. The three new commercial vehicles that the company will be debuting include the Fiorino Crew Van, the Scudo Crew Van and the Ducato Tipper. The Scudo Crew Van will be of interest to van owners looking for a vehicle that can transport a large amount of passengers, as this model offers six seats, including a three seat bench in the rear cabin with individual headrests and three-point seatbelts, as well as three seats in front with the same upholstery.
The Ducato Tipper is the new version of the famous Fiat van that has been popular with commercial vehicle drivers for a number of years, and includes new technology that provides excellent fuel efficiency as well as performance. Fiat are offering four different engines types for this model, including three 2.3 Multijet II engines that have a power output of 110bhp, 130bhp, or 148bhp, and a 3.0 litre Multijet Power Euro 5 Engine. Fiat are also offering the Comfort-Matic gearbox for models which include the 2.3 litre 130 and 150 Multijet II engines and the 3.0 litre 180 Multijet Power engine, which combines the practicality of a manual gearbox along with the comfort of an automatic transition.
The Fiorino will definitely be popular among those that use their vehicles to transport a large amount of goods, as the vehicle comes with sliding doors, removable rear seats as well as safety features including deadlocks and remote control central locking as standard. Fiat are obviously planning on taking the commercial vehicle market by storm this year, and if you are planning on investing any time soon then make sure you check out van insurance quotes for each model before you buy.
A survey conducted by the road safety pressure group Brake and the insurers Direct Line has shown that people that drive as part of their job take the most risks on the road. The survey has revealed that just over a third (31 per cent) of all people that drive as part of their profession write and send texts whilst driving, as well as groom themselves whilst behind the wheel, including putting on make-up and even shaving. Furthermore, more than three quarters of these drivers speed over thirty five miles an hour in built up or residential areas, meaning that they are the worst at endangering others on the road.
Brake deputy chief executive, Julie Townsend, said: “It is appalling so many people who drive in a professional capacity are taking such horrendous and unnecessary risks, doing things we all know are unbelievably dangerous behind the wheel. People who drive as part of their job should be taking great care to stay within the law and not put people in danger, but according to these results, at-work drivers are more likely to take many deadly risks than other drivers.”
Those that drive as part of their profession are accused of being overly confident due to the fact that they spend so much time on the road; however this is dangerous as even the most experienced drivers can have an accident. Those that own companies which employ commercial vehicle drivers have been called upon by Townsend to “ensure they have comprehensive safe driving policies in place and that staff knows the importance of not speeding or driving distracted. We are also calling on anyone who drives for work to make a commitment to stay within speed limits, stay off the phone, and focused on the critical task at hand.”
Those that drive for a living need to also make sure they have commercial vehicle insurance in order to protect their vehicles and others should they experience an accident whilst on the road.
Plans have been revealed to introduce an HGV training centre on what should be greenbelt land, which has upset and angered local residents. Sadlers Farm is based in Birse Civils, just off the London Road and on the cusp of North Benfleet in Essex, and its owner – Robert Lyons – has recently applied for planning permission to the Basildon Council for the new training centre.
Currently there are builders occupying the three hectare farm due to the roundabouts works that have been taking place in the area, however residents were assured that once this was completed the land would revert back to a greenbelt area. However, if the planning permission is granted then there could be HGVs could be on the site training between 8am and 5:30pm during the week. Residents from Bowers Court Drive and Highlands Crescent whose houses back onto the farm are angered at the proposition, with Robert Smillie, Bowers Gifford Parish Council and North Benfleet leader, saying “To be told that more green land could be taken away will make a lot of residents very annoyed. We have put up with the builders work at Sadlers Farm for far too long, seeing as it was supposed to be done by the Olympics.”
However, those that wish to use the land in order to train HGVs have said that the farm is ideal for HGVs to practice manoeuvres such as reversing and parking, and will therefore create very little noise. They also went on to say that they will only need a small Portakabin on the site, meaning that the land won’t be ruined, and so very little inconvenience will be caused to those that are living near the site. It is important for those driving large commercial vehicles to attend training courses in order to avoid accidents when on the road, and therefore not having to claim on their commercial vehicle insurance.
One of the UK’s largest tyre suppliers is pressurising vehicle manufacturers to radically change the presentation of new vehicles, and they have the support of BRAKE, a leading road safety charity.
ATS Euromaster is recognised as one of the leading suppliers of tyres to the UK’s commercial fleet of vehicles. They also supply tyres to most manufacturers as well as garages that service Britain’s private motorists. They are calling for a big change in the way vans and cars leave the factories in a bid to make the roads safer for everyone. They want manufacturers to give consumers the option of choosing winter or summer tyres when buying their car and believe customers would also prefer to have a choice.
ATS say every customer that selects a set of cold weather tyres when making a purchase in the winter months will cut accidents on the roads and reduce van insurance premiums for van fleet managers. Group Operations Manager at ATS, Columba Zaal, asserted that winter tyres can and do save lives, explaining “Modern rubber compound technology and advances in tread pattern design mean that today’s cold weather tyres deliver considerably shorter stopping distances. They also ensure increased longevity, compared with summer tyres during winter motoring – conditions which normally see tyre life reduced by up to 20%. Tens of thousands of cars and vans are delivered during winter on rubber intended for summer conditions. As a result, much of the investment in technology to improve vehicle handling and safety is negated at the crucial stage where a vehicle makes contact with the road. If active safety systems such as adaptive cruise control and lane departure warning can increasingly be offered as factory-fit options, why can’t cold weather tyres.”
Road safety champions BRAKE are also convinced that using the most effective tyres for the conditions will improve safety figures and they back the ATS Euromaster campaign.
TeleFOT Consortium has released the results of a four-year study where they assessed the impact of driver support functions provided by smartphones, sat-navs and other in-vehicle devices that helped driver behaviour.
The extensive research reveals that intelligent transport systems allow a driver to find quicker and less congested routes, and also stops them from accidentally speeding. It is an advantage that has been welcomed by drivers who find their working day less stressful and by their fleet managers who are successfully keeping commercial vehicle insurance costs down due to fewer claims.
The study showed that fuel costs dropped, as did driver anxiety, while the drivers feeling of safety and comfort went up significantly. The research was based on extensive field trials, with almost 3,000 van drivers covering a combined distance of more than 10 million miles in eight countries throughout Europe. With a budget of £12 million, the four-year project was one of the biggest traffic projects in Europe. Many intelligent pieces of technology are already part of the daily lives of many van drivers, but information about their actual impacts on road safety had not previously been available. Van drivers from the UK, Finland, Greece, Spain, Sweden, Germany, France and Italy were recruited for the research. The completed trials produced a unique set of data, based on a comprehensive assessment of driver behaviour.
Steven Miles, a fleet manager for one of the UK based firms, said “The research analysed the impact of driver support functions provided by in-vehicle devices on safety, efficiency, the environment and driver behaviour while in busy traffic areas. The services tested included static and dynamic navigation support, green driving support, speed limit information and traffic information. Of the devices tested, navigators and traffic information systems, in particular, increased our efficiency by allowing the driver to quickly and easily find a quicker and much less congested route. They also helped us to lower fuel consumption and to reduce speeding, which improves road safety.”
After the recent floods in the UK, experts are warning fleet managers who are looking for new vans to be careful that the van has not been immersed in water. The van may look undamaged but could store up potentially fatal faults in the future.
The experts are concerned that, while van insurance firms always go to stringent efforts to dispose of flood-damaged vehicles to make sure that they do not reach the open market, there are many others that find their way on to the used market. Last week an AA patrol man called to assist with a car that had been immersed in flood water had his arm broken when the airbag unexpectedly activated, if the airbag had gone off while the vehicle was travelling 70mph on the motorway, the results could have been much worse. With so much flooding, experts are worried that some van owners whose vehicles might appear not to have been seriously damaged by water could simply sell them on instead of making a claim on their van insurance policy.
Simon Douglas, from the AA, said “Catalytic converter and exhaust system life can be seriously reduced, wheel bearings could seize, brakes can be affected and alternator and starter motors could fail. In addition, water can seriously affect electrical and electronic systems including the airbags, which might go off unexpectedly – or not deploy when they should.”
Buyers should beware of buying from private vendors as they will be left out of pocket when problems emerge maybe after a few weeks or month. If a used van has the windows left open it may be to let out the smell of damp and if the inside of the windows are seriously running with condensation, there is moisture inside the van. Take the oil filler cap off and if there is a whitish, mayonnaise-like deposit visible, there is water in the engine. Also check to see if the airbag warning light works. If the airbag electronics have been submerged, they will fail when needed or even go off unexpectedly while driving.
A street battle between two owners of ice cream vans ended up in court this week, with a YouTube video ending up as the star witness.
When former Mr Yummy driver Zeheer Ramzan found Mr Whippy van vendor Mohammed Mulla in the same street and selling ice cream to what he considered his own customers Ramzan lost his “cool”. Although Ramzan had admitted to causing criminal damage and possession of a weapon in a public place he had denied assaulting Mulla. However, unknown to Ramzan a bewildered homeowner had videoed part of the confrontation on his mobile phone and later uploaded it to YouTube. The video went viral and over 1 million people watched the frosty battle between two ice cream sellers unfold on their computers and phones.
The video clearly shows Ramzan approach Mulla’s ice cream van twice and each time carrying a wheel wrench has a weapon. In his evidence Ramzan had claimed he only wielded the wrench the second time after Mulla had threatened him with a claw hammer. He also said Mulla had started the battle by reversing into Ramzan’s van. When confronted with the evidence of the YouTube footage Ramzan said it had happened a long time ago and he had forgotten details of the incident. Apparently he also forgot elements of his past as he claimed he had never been in trouble with the police before although investigations showed he had court convictions for causing an obstruction and driving without motor insurance.
Mr Ramzan must now appear before magistrates in Blackburn next month for sentencing, meanwhile Mr Mulla, who had to claim on his commercial vehicle insurance after the attack, said “It’s a relief to see justice done. It has been a nightmare since this happened. The incident was terrifying and I was frightened to go out afterwards. I am very relieved.”
Van drivers in East Lancashire have been told to keep a wary eye on their vehicles this week as a spate of robberies and arson attacks have resulted in at least half a dozen vehicles covered by van insurance being damaged.
The crimes have all occurred in the Burnley and Barnoldswick area of the county and local police say at least four vans were broken into inside 12 hours. The thieves seem to have been on the lookout for expensive tools to sell on and three of the vehicles had valuable equipment stolen from them. The thieves stole a power drill valued at £150 from one van, while a van parked up in Byron Street had two electric drills, an electrical testing unit and three showers stolen from it. The owner estimated the value of the goods at around £680. A third van had an aluminium ladder taken from its roof in nearby Harrison Street but thieves left empty handed when breaking into a fourth van as the owner had taken his equipment out of the vehicle.
Investigating Officer, Kim De Curtis, said “We’re warning all motorists not to leave their tools or ladders in your van overnight.” Meanwhile down the road in Burnley two vans were burned to a shell in what fire and rescue services presumed to be arson attacks. The two vans were set alight within ten minutes of each other in the early evening. Both vans were parked in pub car parks, one outside the Lanes Ends Pub in Kiddrow Lane and the other outside the Hare and Hounds Pub in Halifax Road.
The fire crew attending the incidents are still not sure if they were connected but are asking commercial vehicle drivers to beef up their security where at all possible.
Authorities responsible for the upkeep of almost 200,000 miles of the UK’s roads are warning that potholes are set to become even more of a problem for motorists in the coming months.
According to the Local Government Association (LGA) the body that maintains the majority of Britain’s road network, a continuation of the disastrous weather that is affecting much of the country at the moment will see the disintegration of many road surfaces over the coming winter. The LGA say they have had £500,000 cut from their budget since the Coalition Government came to power and any more cuts from now on really could spell disaster.
A spokesman for the LGA said local councils had fixed over four million potholes over the last two years but repairing roads is far more expensive than resurfacing them in the long term and more Government money would address that situation.
Transport Minister Norman Baker refuted claims that the Government were not doing their share saying: “Despite the economic challenges we are facing, this Government is providing over £3 billion to councils across England for road maintenance between 2011 and 2015, demonstrating our commitment to maintaining our existing transport infrastructure. We also provided an additional £200 million in March 2011 to help repair local roads damaged by the severe winter weather in 2010. It is ultimately up to local highway authorities to determine how they prioritise their funding and the department has simplified its funding streams to better enable them to do this.”
No-one suffers more from the poor state of UK roads than drivers whose vehicles are typically covered with commercial vehicle insurance. They spend long hours every working day traversing the country and often enduring delays and damage to the vehicles simply because of the road surface they are travelling on. They will also sympathise with the observations made earlier this week by the Road Safety Markings Association who report that markings on over a third of our major highways are in desperate need of repair.