Rain, rain: bring it on! We have fleet drivers covered

The Met office is warning there will be a significant change in the autumnal weather this week, as Storm Diana moves from the Atlantic and is set to bring rain and gales to the UK, from Wednesday.

Here is some advice to your fleet drivers from IAM RoadSmart on how best to cope with it.

 

 

Heavy rain:

  • Heavy rain will affect your visibility, so take it slow. Rule 126 of the Highway Code states that the braking distance between yourself and the vehicle in front of you should be two seconds when driving on a dry road, and at least four seconds in the wet. It is even longer on icy surfaces. IAM RoadSmart recommends up to 10 times the braking distance when driving on ice.
  • Your windscreen should be clean, wipers effective and the jets positioned correctly and aimed at the screen. It is sensible to clean the windshield, make any necessary adjustments and remove anything from the main area before you start your journey.
  • A good rule of thumb is that if you need windscreen wipers, then you need your headlights. Automatic light settings will not always activate in lousy weather conditions, so it is up to you to make a sensible decision as to whether these need to be turned on.

Aquaplaning:

  • If the water is standing in puddles on the road surface, your car is at risk of aquaplaning. Aquaplaning is where a wedge of water forms in front of the tyre and lifts off the road surface, causing the tread not to be able to displace the amount of water present. To recover form aquaplaning, ease gently off your accelerator, have a firm grip of the steering wheel and be sure not to make any sudden steering actions. The car will eventually regain its grip as the water clears.

rain puddle

Floods:

  • First, ask yourself – can you take another route? If not, then you need to identify how deep the water is. If the standing water is more than six inches deep, avoid driving through it. If you are familiar with the road, you can judge the flood to the kerb.
  • If heavy rain was not the cause of the flood, then what was? Moreover, what impact on the road does it have? For example, if it is a burst water main, the standing water may look like a normal flood, but the road surface beneath the water may be completely broken up. If you are unsure how the surge has formed, then avoid it altogether.
  • Are there other vehicles similar to yours that are safely driving through the water? From this, make a judgement call as to whether it is safe to travel through or not.
  • If the water is fast flowing, do not attempt to drive through it, as there is a real danger of being swept off the road in your car.
  • If you have considered everything and decided to drive through the flood, be sure to do so slowly. The best approach is to press lightly on your clutch and add gentle pressure on your accelerator to increase your engine revs. Do so without increasing your speed, in a similar way to how you would undertake a hill start. Doing this will prevent water from entering your exhaust. If you are in an automatic car, accelerate slightly but control the speed with your brakes. When you have passed the flood, test your brakes to make sure they are dry and working correctly.
  • If you are in the slightest doubt, then turn around and don’t go through the flood. Often modern saloon cars have the air intake in the wheel arch, which may be below the water level. If your engine should take in water, it will take immediately hydro lock, and the vehicle will stop.
  • Remember to stay alert and avoid splashing pedestrians. If accidentally done – even when causing splashed when driving through puddles at the side of the road – you could receive a fixed penalty and three points on your license for driving without due care and attention or without reasonable consideration for other road users. If deliberately done, it could be a public order offence, a court appearance and a fine.

Choose telematics system

Planning for nasty weather can take much time. At My Fleet Solutions, we understand that managing a commercial fleet is more challenging than ever. Register with us for free, once the details of your vehicle are in place, you’ll have access to a nationwide garage network with significant savings on fleet servicing, maintenance, repairs and MOTs, at the right price for your vehicle.

My Fleet Solutions is here to step in when road traffic accidents occur. Register for free and if a crash does happen, feel safe in the knowledge that we will handle the first notification of loss, to ensure accurate insurance claims reporting. There is an accredited helpdesk primed to support distressed drivers. A network of courtesy cars to keep your fleet moving. Expertise to inspect, instruct and approve nominated or independent repairers. Moreover, by choosing My Fleet Solutions to claim and manage the insurance process and recover losses, you will have the incredible reassurance that incidents and accidents will not have a significant impact on your business or fleet.

At My Fleet Solutions, we also offer FCS Insurance Solutions, which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA licence number 759713). Through our parent company Fuel Card Services, we can negotiate more significant discounts and introduces quotes for all probabilities: Mixed Fleet Insurance, HGV Dedicated Insurance, Employer’s Liability Insurance, Product and Public Liability Insurance and Goods In Transit Insurance.

My Fleet Solutions is the one-stop solution to all your fleets needs and your drivers’ cares.

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Beating the Black Friday blues for drivers

Your customers are eagerly waiting to participate in the biggest shopping event of the year: Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

The challenge for your company isn’t focused on a system crash or a payment failure. It’s the delivery problems that come after the purchases have been made.

For your drivers, it could be a blue weekend filled with time-pressure and time-anxiety; and adding to this pressure mix, are other drivers on the road looking for bargains in the shops and congesting the road.

These events will create stress.

Stress affects us all at one time or another – whether it’s down to work, home life or a tough situation you’re facing. Stress can affect how we feel physically and emotionally as well as impair our judgement and our reactions, which isn’t good news when we need to concentrate on something significant, like driving and delivering packages.

It’s important your drivers recognise how they feel and try to relax before getting in the vehicle. Ben, an independent charity which provides support for life to the people of the automotive industry, provided us with some signs on how to recognise stress.

Black Friday stress

Warning signs of stress 
First of all, we need to recognise the warning signs of stress. You might feel some or all of these:

  • Becoming easily irritated with colleagues, friends or family
  • Feeling distracted, forgetful or moody
  • Having racing thoughts
  • Not being able to ‘switch off’
  • Becoming quiet and withdrawn
  • Under or overeating
  • Smoking more, drinking more alcohol or taking drugs
  • Tense muscles
  • Headaches
  • Feeling sick
  • Not sleeping well / insomnia
  • Getting ill more often

Here are a few tips to do before you get in the vehicle stressed: 

  • Go for a short walk around the block to get some fresh air and unwind from the stresses of the day
  • Wait until you feel calm, collected and well enough to head out on your journey. Driving itself can be stressful, especially in rush hour, so if you are already stressed this is likely to make matters worse
  • Try mindfulness and deep breathing before getting behind the wheel. You don’t have to be spiritual to benefit from mindfulness and meditation – anyone can meditate and it has been shown to reduce stress and anxiety
  • If you’re feeling ill from stress with headaches or sickness, make sure you feel well enough before you drive. Drink plenty of water and get some fresh air
  • Write down a list of the things that are stressing you out and set yourself some time to tackle them later on – sometimes writing your worries down and making time to sort them out helps clear your mind
  • Is stress causing you to struggle with addiction to alcohol, drugs or nicotine? Be aware that these could still be in your system before driving. If you’re struggling with addiction or substance misuse, then it’s important to seek help
  • If you’re having trouble sleeping due to stress then make sure you aren’t too tired to drive. IAM RoadSmart advises if you feel sleepy whilst behind the wheel, find a safe place to pull over and stop – not on the hard shoulder of a motorway. Research suggests that almost 20% of accidents on major roads are sleep-related so don’t drive if you feel sleepy
  • Tell someone you trust how you feel. Sometimes opening up about our problems to loved ones can make all the difference and they can even help you find solutions. As they say, a problem shared is a problem halved

Black Friday stress

If you feel these tips are a little too soft and fancy, and don’t really apply to your organisation, then take heed of this warning from Neil Greig, director of policy and research of IAM RoadSmart, who said: “If a company forces someone to drive too many hours in the day, and there was a crash resulting in a fatality, a prosecution according to the Corporate Manslaughter and Homicide Act would help send a message to businesses that a lot more care needs to be taken in this area.”

Help is at hand, to support you in your duty of care for your drivers, to tracking the vehicles and find the fuel to put in it and, to servicing and fixing it, My Fleet Solutions has the right answer to fit your vehicle management needs. The maintenance support includes sourcing the right vehicle insurance, telematics system and the most comprehensive accident management support in the industry. If you need solutions to manage your drivers and vehicles, the answer is at My Fleet Solutions.

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The fuelish costs of traffic jams

Unsurprisingly, the top annoyance for the UK motorist is a traffic jam. This finding was part of IAM RoadSmart’s Safety Culture Survey, which was published on Thursday last week.

It is the fourth year, that the UK’s biggest road safety charity, asked more than 2,000 drivers about their worries, fears and attitudes. In the past, two years safety concerns around other drivers using hand-held mobile phones topped the list – but now traffic congestion is the top concern.

Congestion costs money

Congestion becomes a very real worry when looking at the road usage landscape from a business perspective. Hire car organisation, Europcar launched a new white paper, exploring the mobility challenges facing UK business. In Charting a Safe Path Through the Minefield of Challenges Facing UK Businesses, the paper reveals a mood of caution and mild pessimism amongst UK businesses.

Europcar conducted the research in response to the increasing challenges facing businesses and decision makers when it comes to keeping workers on the road and productive. More than half of the 500 businesses surveyed by Europcar said they generate their revenue through monthly contracts, so unsurprisingly, economic growth and cash flow were found to be the top two concerns for this sample of firms.

Congestion affects business

With Christmas coming, and the delivery of online retailing after Black Friday increasing, this will mean our roads are about to get even busier. Congestion becomes a critical business issue according to research from the Mercedes-Benz Vans Business Barometer survey.

Delivery drivers say that, on average, 16% of their working day is lost due to congestion, which means, based on a (very conservative) 8 hour working day this equates to 1 hour 17 minutes a day, or more than 6 hours across a typical working week, adding up to 37 working days a year lost due to congestion for the average delivery driver.

Greater London reaffirms its place at the top of the ‘congestion league’, with respondents saying 18% of their working day is lost to congestion – higher than anywhere else in the UK.

The research, undertaken amongst 2,000 van owners and operators, also highlights that congestion is now the second biggest ‘barrier to growth’, with 31% believing this will be a barrier to growth in the coming year, rising to 38% amongst fleet managers, and second only to rising fuel costs (57%).

Commenting upon their survey, Steve Bridge, Managing Director, Mercedes-Benz Vans UK Ltd, said: “We know from our Business Barometer that a growing customer base ever more focused on online retail is a positive for the industry, but unless the issue of congestion is tackled, these businesses will suffer. Congestion causes delays that cost money as well as time and can damage the reputation of business that rely on their deliveries.”

congestion

Dealing with congestion

IAM RoadSmart’s head of driving and riding standards, Richard Gladman, is all about how you can save fuel. Here he provides some top congestion-driving tips.

  • Try to keep your driving smooth. Gentle acceleration and using the highest safe gear will use less fuel. Ease off the accelerator early for traffic lights if they are red – why hurry up to wait?
  • If possible, try to avoid driving during heavy traffic. Stopping and starting in traffic needs the use of the first gear and a lot fuel is used to get the vehicle moving again
  • Keep your tyres well maintained by checking the condition, pressures and tread depth. When it comes to choosing new tyres, it’s worth having a look at ones which are designed for extra economy
  • Get rid of unnecessary weight. Cars work just like the human body, it needs more energy to move around more weight and so does your car. Take heavy items out of the car if you don’t need to carry them. A roof rack or roof box will increase drag and you will use more fuel to overcome this, so remove it if it is not being used
  • Nowadays, you don’t need to manually warm up a modern car, so once your windows are clear (a bit of elbow grease will sort them out) you are able to set off to your destination without having to wait around
  • During this winter season as your engine is trying to warm up it uses more fuel for the first four miles or so.Your engine stays cold when you drive less than two miles and your car will produce 60 per cent more pollution than a warm engine – avoid these short journeys where possible
  • Turn off the air-conditioning as it uses extra fuel. When the rear window is cleared turn off the rear screen heater – the more electricity your car has to produce, the more fuel it will use
  • Keep your speed low as you can reduce fuel consumption by up to 25%. Try pressing more lightly on the accelerator, often you can maintain the same speed with less pressure on the pedal

For the moment, whilst the government navigates through its own Brexit congestion, road users and business will have to await any further constructive news about a future without traffic jams on our roads.

At My Fleet Solutions, we understand that managing a commercial fleet is more challenging than ever. We offer the very best for fleets when it comes to vehicle servicing, maintenance and repairs, on all makes and models. My Fleet Solutions can take the sting out of automotive costs, with 60% typically saved on SMR compared to franchise dealers. The costings are transparent, based upon thorough working knowledge and up-to-date automotive data, plus all genuine parts and repairs are protected under warranty.

Visit www.myfleetsolutions.co.uk.

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Filter your allergy response

Sniffing? Sneezing? Coughing? We’re not quite into flu season but if your drivers are suffering with these symptoms, maybe it’s an allergy? It could be ‘air filter flu’ and your drivers could be struck down with allergies into the winter if you don’t get your fleets’ cabin air filters checked.

The risk of breathing in allergens trapped in air filters is higher this year due to last year’s mild winter, followed by a record-breaking summer with the Met Office reporting a 12-year high pollen count. Millions of people were left unable to work due to allergies and UK businesses lost almost five days per hay fever stricken employee, according to Allergy UK.

Cabin air filters clean the air coming into your vehicle, remove allergens and help trap airborne particles like pollen, dust and bacteria. NHS England advises all drivers should buy a pollen filter for the air vents.

However, over time these filters can become blocked if left unchecked and with several ‘pollen bombs’ hitting the UK over the summer, vans could now be harbouring harmful allergens.

Infographic: what allergies do

Cabin filters consist of two layers, one which pre-filters large dust and soot particles while the second removes many fungus spores and pollen that over time can harm people’s lungs.

In addition to reducing pollen levels in the cabin, an activated charcoal micro filter layer reduces odours and absorbs gaseous pollutants, and at the same time, the filter helps ensure better visibility by reducing fogged windows.

While the traditional hay fever season runs from late March to early September, after a record year for pollen, it’s advisable to get focus your maintenance schedule on getting those filters checked.

A filter change is easy, quick and inexpensive; however, downtime can affect drivetime, which will be a problem for your fleet. Let My Fleet Solutions support you to get this job done more efficiently. We offer the very best for fleets when it comes to vehicle servicing, maintenance and repairs, on all makes and models. My Fleet Solutions can take the sting out of automotive costs, with 60% typically saved on SMR compared to franchise dealers. The costings are transparent, based upon thorough working knowledge and up-to-date automotive data, plus all genuine parts and repairs are protected under warranty.

Visit www.myfleetsolutions.co.uk and book a cabin air filter service.

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Get to know your business

We live in the age of analytics. Yet all too often, we’re busy analysing potential customers or competitors, to take any time to analyse our own business. Often making transformational business decisions based on ‘gut instinct’ rather than evidence to accurate forecast. If you are growing your business, My Business Advantage offers a free business audit.

Patnering with Experian, they offer a Business Data Hygiene & Enhancement Report which will provide you with unique insights into your business data. The report gives you the ability to cleanse, enrich and develop an understanding of the characteristics of your business customers.

We know just how important strong customer relationships are to your business. Clean, accurate address data not only ensures you reach the right people, but can also eliminate the duplication that damages your reputation and ultimately wastes your marketing budget. Experian has the best possible address data services – services that can help you build customer relationships that lead to increased sales.

As part of your advantage benefits you can receive an audit of your data (under strict NDA) with no charge. Not only will it highlight where you have missing, incomplete, or out of date records, it will also provide you with a full rundown of your database. It will show turnover, location, number of employees & sector – giving you a % breakdown for each category (eg: 13% are retailers, 21% have 5-10 employees, 12% have 50-100 employees).

And on top of that a friendly expert from Experian will be on hand to talk you through the results – so you really get the most from the benefit.

So, get to know your business with a free audit worth £300, from www.mybusinessadvantage.co.uk

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