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Call for more training for private motorists after shock statistics

Research collated by the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) shows that driver error and/or slow reactions are the major cause of serious accidents on the roads of the UK over the last 5 years. The research results are leading many industry experts to call on more stringent tests for ordinary drivers, to compare with those who drive specialised vehicles such as those often covered by commercial vehicle insurance.

A catalogue of mistakes

The study into the serious accidents was illuminating. In fatal crashes, reports stated that driver errors such as slow manoeuvres, lack of observation and loss of control of the vehicle was partly responsible in 65% of the incidents. Only slightly less, 61% was the case for serious accidents.

Driver errors such as exceeding the speed limit, making an illegal manoeuvre, or tailgating was cited as the cause in 34% of fatal crashes, with driver inexperience being blamed in 28% of cases. Interestingly enough alcohol was only considered a factor in 1 in 10 serious accidents.

Call for drivers to improve their skills

The results will shock many but come as no surprise to many more. The President of IAM was vociferous in his call for private motorists to emulate professional drivers and seek to improve their skills not just by experience but to undertake advanced tuition.

Professional scheme s point the way

Of course the benefits of companies exercising a continuous professional development scheme for professional drivers are numerous, not only will they stand the driver in good stead in emergency situations but a reduction in his accident rate will lead to cheaper van fleet insurance for the company and more than likely greater fuel efficiency. The Freight Transport Association’s Van Excellence scheme is a good example of this and is being taken up by more companies all the time.

Will the government take action?

IAM do offer packages to private motorists to improve their skills by taking the Advanced driving Test which is principally but not wholly centred round safer driving tactics. One would imagine the fact that driver error is responsible for such a high degree of serious accidents can only make the Government consider more robust assessments of drivers taking the conventional driving test, before they are allowed out on the highways of the UK.

Royal Wedding could mean van drivers end up down a blind alley

It appears that van drivers in the Central London area working as normal this coming Friday may well find their usual transport routes unavailable, as the Capital prepares to celebrate the wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton.

Unfamiliar territory

Insurance providers are urging couriers and hauliers to ensure they have alternative mapping systems available in their cabs, for they anticipate that on the day van insurance claims around Central London could soar, with drivers getting caught up in minor scrapes trying to negotiate streets they are unfamiliar with.

Satellite navigation may not work

The problem is all down to the special arrangements being made for the wedding. The Metropolitan Police and various councils in London have closed many roads in the central part of the city and although the day is a Bank Holiday it is anticipated that couriers especially, will see very little slackening of business in the South East. The great majority of the van drivers now use sat nav systems to navigate the streets of the capitals but because of the road closures on the day the devices may well be better turned off.

Parking problems also anticipated

Another problem van drivers will encounter on the day is parking. With the thousands of visitor’s cars to the capital taking up many car parks, drivers may well find parking near their unloading venue is almost impossible, they will also have to bear in mind that although it is a Bank Holiday, parking restrictions on many single and double yellow lines in London will still be in force.

Check before setting out

Although it will be a tedious job to check with the 34 different local authorities in London about road closures and parking restrictions on the day, it may well save some drivers a lot of trouble, and in the end a couple of hours spent on the phone will work out cheaper than a commercial vehicle insurance policy without a no claims bonus.

Commercial drivers in the area on the day would also be well advised to ensure they have a full tank of fuel before they set off as the crowded streets and Bank holiday closures may mean many service stations are either inaccessible are closed.

Van drivers reminded that rules are rules, even if they are silly

The ongoing saga of a van driver who faces losing his job because he had a small Christian cross placed in his work van looks likely to come to a head soon, as religious leaders from all creeds give backing to the humble van driver.

Most employers sensible on rules

Of course working van drivers across the UK will know that different companies have different rules about personal possessions kept in the vehicle. It is something that can obviously have an effect on a commercial vehicle insurance claim in the case of an accident or theft. Most employers though, do allow drivers to bring small personal items with them, a van driver often has a busy, long day cooped up in his cabin and a photograph of loved ones somewhere in the van is a nice reminder of what they are working for, just like the transport manager back in the depot may have on his desk.

Inflexible attitude

Wakefield District Housing (WDH), Mr Atkinson’s employer, allows its workers to wear religious symbols at work, regardless of what religion they follow, but after a complaint about the six inch long cross on the dashboard of Mr Atkinson’s van by an anonymous caller, they asked Mr Atkinson to remove the cross. He refused and even though colleagues from other religions came forward to back him up WDH would not change their stance on the matter and this week, the holiest in the Christian calendar, may see Mr Atkinson lose his job.

Support from all creeds

It is hard to see how such a small personal item carried around in the van of a Christian can cause such a fuss, the item certainly wouldn’t affect any van insurance cover, its intrinsic value is virtually nothing. The debate around it however, is deepening. Statements from local religious leaders from Muslims, Sikhs and Hindu’s all support Mr Atkinson and now leaders of the Christian church are rallying round in support of the electrician/van driver.

Violent reaction as the case reaches its climax

The company though will not back down; the Chief Executive says that WDH must at all times be neutral in religious matters! They have certainly got the backing of their management anyway, as one manager was so fervent in his belief of religious neutrality that he attacked a journalist from a daily newspaper who questioned the policy, apparently the manager in question had a poster of Che Guevara, the well known communist revolutionary in his office at the firm’s headquarters.

The case should be resolved this coming week and Mr Atkinson anticipates he will lose his job, it does however, remind van drivers of how careful they must be in sticking to the rules of the company they work for no matter how silly they may be.

Traffic chaos once again as Bank Holiday looms

As Britain’s van drivers prepare for a big surge in delivery orders prior to the Easter holidays it appears that once again some customers will be disappointed when ordered goods don’t turn up in time.

Repeat of December

The last thing hauliers and couriers can afford to happen the first big public holiday after the nightmare road conditions of Christmas and the New Year is traffic chaos brought about by poor management of the UK’s highway system. Many small businesses in Scotland no longer require commercial van insurance because the breakdown of the road system in Scotland throughout December of 2010 put paid to their business. They lost their living due to factors beyond their control.

Chaos anticipated around the Capital

Van drivers in the South-East, and hauliers across the country heading towards the capital to deliver goods, endured a nightmare weekend as junctions of the M1 were closed because of a fire below a viaduct spanning junction four of the motorway. Despite a massive emergency services deployment the motorway stayed shut for days and has in fact only just partially opened. Van drivers have already been warned that the coming week, their busiest since the Christmas period, will be one of frustrating disruptions in and around London.

Map readers will come to the fore

It will probably become a test of nerve for many drivers, will they be prepared to start up the engine and not turn on their sat nav! Turning off the sat nav will be advisable for a lot of drivers, it will stop them getting confused and stop the computer taking them round in circles. Alternative routes via the A1 and M4 should get drivers from the North, East and West across London eventually but it will be quicker preparing the journey via a map before setting off.

Grin and bear it

The major motoring organisations are forecasting chaos if the situation is still the same by Thursday and of course build ups of traffic usually result in minor accidents which add to the delays and spoil the van insurance cover for the unlucky drivers involved. The usual outcome is frustrated professional drivers preparing themselves for further hold ups in their quest to deliver their cargo and get home to their own families for the seasonal break.

CV show off to a good start

The Commercial Vehicle show at the National Exhibition Centre (NEC) got off to a cracking start yesterday, with thousands of visitors cramming into halls 4 and 5 of the building. There was plenty to see for all visitors with action aplenty in both halls.

Ford unveil super van

No white van driver can fail to have been impressed by one offering from Ford, although they would have found it mightily difficult to get a commercial vehicle insurance quote on the featured van. Continuing its tradition of building a one-off super sporty version to highlight what a set of engineers can achieve with a van, they unveiled the “Transit Supersportsvan”. The van was created by putting the largest engine (3.2lite 197 bhp diesel) into the van with the smallest short wheel base. The van was then treated to a luxury make over which included twin exhausts, alloy wheels, low profile tyres, front and rear low spoilers and of course go faster stripes on the bonnet. Unfortunately Ford confirmed the very impressive van would not be going on general sale.

Minister presents Van Excellence awards

Over in another area of the show Transport Minister Mike Penning awarded Van Excellence certificates of accreditation to four well deserving businesses. AAH Pharmaceuticals, Enterprised Managed Services, Iron Mountain and London borough of Redbridge all picked up the certificates at the Freight Trade Association (FTA) stand.

The FTA is the body behind the Van Excellence scheme, which is designed to raise the standards and profile of van using businesses across the UK. The scheme has now been embraced by 13 organisations that between them have fleet insurance on over 22,000 vans. The FTA say that a further 80 businesses are ready to join the scheme, which the FTA hope will become a feature in all van led businesses.

Voluntary scheme gets a mention

The FTA were also praised by the minister for their work on the Logistics Carbon Reduction Scheme (LCRS), a voluntary effort that is designed to enable hauliers and couriers to assess the quantity of emissions their vehicles are emitting and what they can do to lower them. Publications on the LCRS and the Van Excellence Accreditation Scheme are both available from the FTA stand.

Commercial vehicle show returns after three year absence

Hundreds of hauliers and couriers who can find a day to spare in their busy schedules will be making tracks for the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham this week to look in on the only motor show in the UK that specialises in road transport vehicles. Thousands of visitors with an interest in commercial vehicle insurance will visit the show over the three days of the 12-14th of April.

The excitement running up to show for those in the industry has been felt even more than usual this time around as the show has been absent from the calendar for the last three years, a sad commentary perhaps on the frailty of commercial vehicle manufacturing since the recession of 2008.

Hundreds to exhibit

The Commercial Vehicle show will have over 250 exhibitors showing their wares in halls 4 and 5 of the NEC over the three days, and visitors to the show will have the chance to buy anything from a brand new truck to daily van insurance. In all, fourteen vehicle manufacturers will be in attendance including big names such as DAF and Mercedes on the heavy side of the industry, while most Light Commercial Vehicle (LCV) manufacturers will put in an appearance.

Green vehicles will make their presence felt

Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles will be making their bow at the show and will hope to turn a few heads as will other manufacturers with their new models aimed at the green end of the industry. High Tech electric vehicles and eco friendly engines will more than likely be the stars of the show, at least for the press gang.

Specialised market

Of course the more specialised end of the road transport market will be on show as well. Road sweepers, forklifts, tail lifts and tractors will all have their own group of interested onlookers.

The show will be open from 8.30 to 17.30 each day for visitors and admission will be free. Apart from the chance to purchase everything that has anything to do with commercial vehicles, visitors will find they can purchase food and drink aplenty while they are visiting the show. The last show attracted over 28,500 visitors, organisers of this year’s event are hopeful of topping the thirty thousand mark as those with an interest in commercial vehicles come and see what the future may hold for them.

Mayor gives help to the Knights of the Road

In news that may cause many van drivers to instantly go out and get a commercial vehicle insurance quote on a brand new van, the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, has announced something of a coup.

Discounts on new vans

Johnson has not always been the best friend of van drivers over the years but in a bid to ease the effect of the Low Emission Zone (LEZ) on drivers of large vans and mini buses, the mayor has gone out of his way to get them a deal. According to a press release six major manufacturers of vans and buses who produce vehicles that will comply with the requirements of the LEZ are to give over 70,000 bus and van drivers discounts to trade in their older vans for newer models that will be a lot more environmentally friendly.

Regulated vehicles will soar in 2912

The new LEZ standards will become effective from the third of January 2012 and at a stroke will quadruple the number of vehicles driving within the zone who are regulated under it. Van drivers just can’t afford to ignore it either. The charges for vehicles that operate in London but do not meet the standards are £100 a day and equate to the equivalent twelve months worth of insurance for van drivers every week.

Air quality a legal requirement

It is hoped that the LEZ will dramatically improve the air in the Capital where almost 5,000 citizens a year are said to die prematurely because of the amounts of toxins and particulates in the air. The European Commission has also set legal standards of air quality for the first time and London cannot afford to fail the test.

Van drivers praised to the hilt

In a speech announcing his agreement with the motor manufacturers, Boris Johnson was effervescent in his praise of van drivers working in the Capital, describing them as knights of the road, the lifeblood of the city, and a noble bunch, in various parts of his dialogue. Words that not too many van drivers can say they hear spoken about them too often.

The six manufacturers who have agreed deals with the van’s champion are Ashwoods, Citroen, Ford, Peugeot, Mercedes-Benz and Volkswagen. All have them have agreed specific packages with the Mayor and van drivers interested can find more details at

Black hole in pothole budget

The latest report on the state of the UK’s roads by a leading motoring organisation appears to offer little hope for Britain’s long suffering van drivers. According to the report by the Royal Automobile Club (RAC), many thousands of motorists will find their commercial vehicle insurance inflated because they have had to make a claim due to damage caused by the state of the highway.

Poor roads causing van insurance hikes

Call out patrols have witnessed a 25% increase in breakdown assists caused by the poor state of roads. Patrol workers say potholes are now the cause of more damage and more call outs than ever before, with windscreens, tyres and suspension parts regularly having to be replaced because of accidents caused by the condition of the roads. Not only does this affect van insurance quotes it also affects the cost of breakdown insurance for the innocent parties. It is no secret that most breakdown companies offer discounts for no claims.

Government cuts leading to short term solutions

In an effort to back up the evidence supplied by their patrol workers, the RAC contacted 20 councils from across the UK and questioned them on their policy regarding road repairs. All 20 councils confirmed that the bad winter had seriously affected the conditions of roads in their areas and all also confirmed the situation had been worsened by cuts in their budget from Central Government.

A massive 60% of those questioned said they now employed a short term policy for road repairs which they admitted was not the best approach, but necessary to patch up the most damaged areas. Council funds from a reserve account were used by 10% to supplement their highway budget, and another 10% said they were now using private finance initiatives to try and protect their spending on roads, from Whitehall cuts. In all 40% said that even though their roads were in an appalling state they were actually operating on reduced funding to try and rectify the situation.

Safety issues ignored

The sad fact is that van drivers and motorists in general have been saddled with higher costs in tax, insurance, parking and fuel over the last 12 months and are basically being asked to grin and bear it. Unfortunately no-one feels like laughing when they have suffered a blow-out and lost the best part of a day’s wage in sorting it out. And this highlights another by-product of the neglect of our roads. There are serious road safety issues when potholes are allowed to grow bigger and bigger as our spending on repairs grows smaller and smaller. It is time someone took responsibility for that.

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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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