Using phone while driving

Fleet drivers distracted by mobile phones, poll finds

Fleet drivers may not be able to pay enough attention to the roads because they are distracted by their mobile phones, new research has suggested.

Always-on expectations from managers

A poll of 1,006 employees and 255 executive directors by the government-backed Highways England programme Driving for Better Business (DfBB) found 49 per cent of business leaders expect their employees to answer their phones at all times, even while driving for work.

As a result, 45 per cent of employees said they experience stress when they are behind the wheel and receive a call from their boss.

More worryingly, 61 per cent of employees said they do not always – or only sometimes – find a safe place to stop to take the call if their phone rings while they are driving.

Indeed, despite it being illegal, one in 20 executive directors and one in eight employees thought the hard shoulder of a motorway is an acceptable place to take a work-related call.

The study also found that 17 per cent of those who drive for work have been involved in an accident due to a phone call from a colleague.

Campaign manager for DfBB Simon Turner told “Leaders must implement a driving for work policy that enforces legal and ethical obligations on all employees that drive on work-related journeys.”

According to the most recent figures from the Department for Transport, drivers using mobile phones were responsible for 33 deaths on Britain’s roads in 2017.

It is illegal to hold a phone while driving and motorists must have hands-free access if they wish to take calls.

Ellie Baker, brand manager at Fuel Card Services, comments: “This study presents a worrying picture of the expectations some managers are placing on their fleet drivers. We would urge them to have a rethink and always put safety first.”

infrastructure poll

Infrastructure biggest worry for fleet owners

Fleet owners and drivers have been quizzed about their challenges and concerns for the future as part of a major new poll – and the findings make for interesting reading.

Leasing company Arval asked 3,980 fleets a range of questions about fleet and mobility trends for the firm’s 2019 Mobility Observatory survey.

Infrastructure and tax biggest worries

It found 49 per cent named a lack of suitable road infrastructure and the congestion stemming from this as their biggest perceived challenge over the next five years.

A further 30 per cent said tax, although these concerns may have been abated slightly this week as the government announced a freeze on company car tax.

Other worries listed included unclear government policy towards transport (19 per cent); alternative fuel policies (19 per cent); and the introduction of more clean air zones in urban areas (16 per cent).

Arval spokesperson Shaun Sadlier said: “The breadth of issues mentioned in response to this question shows that fleet and mobility managers are facing some very difficult challenges over the next few years.”

He added it is interesting that most of the issues mentioned by the respondents relate to external regulatory and policy factors and their impact on fleets, rather than the practical issues that might have cropped up.

However, clean air zones were sure to be high on the list, as their associated charges can add a big financial burden to those with older fleets needing to drive for business.

Ellie Baker, brand manager at Fuel Card Services, comments: “This poll presents a vital snapshot of what is on the minds of fleet owners in 2019, and we hope the government takes it on board when developing future policies for the roads.”

M74 Raith

Delays expected on M74 at Raith in July

Anyone travelling in the vicinity of Raith in the coming weeks has been advised of potentially significant delays in the area.

Transport Scotland engineers will be working at sites along the M74 on approach to Junction 5 Raith for approximately ten days from July 16th.


Essential repairs to Raith Bridge

A contraflow will be in operation on both directions of the M74 to allow for essential bridge maintenance works.

As a result, drivers are advised to plan additional time into their journeys and to avoid the area if possible.

Graham Drummond, operations manager for the M8 M73 M74 Motorway Improvements Project, said: “Scottish Roads Partnership is asking motorists to plan their journey in advance and if possible to use an alternative route or mode of transport while these essential maintenance works are completed.”

He added the scheme will require specific periods of closure when concrete repair and waterproofing are carried out and allowed time to dry.

For this reason, motorists should not become frustrated if they do not see workers at the site of some prolonged closures.

These road works are among the many planned to improve Scottish roads and motorways.

Ellie Baker, brand manager at FCS Scotland, adds: “The repairs and maintenance to the M74 Raith Bridge over the River Clyde are essential works and motorists are asked to bear with engineers throughout the coming weeks.”

Freeze company car tax

Treasury announces freeze on company car tax

The government has announced it will be freezing company car tax, as well as making future changes to such costs more transparent.

Changes in tax rates explained

For those with vehicles registered before April 6th 2020, company car tax bands will stay at the 2020-21 tax rate until 2022-23.

Anyone registering new cars after April 6th 2020 will benefit from a tax cut of two percentage points, while zero-emission company cars will not be required to pay any tax at all.

Following this, company car tax rates will then increase by just one percentage point in 2021-22 and 2022-23.

Going forward, the government also promised to announce percentage rates and changes at least two years prior to their implementation in order to help business owners and fleet operators to plan more effectively.

It is thought the new measures could benefit around a million drivers of company cars, as well as acknowledging the partnership needed with fleet owners in the transition to greener vehicles.

The British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association has welcomed the decision to freeze tax, with spokesperson Jay Parmar saying it shows the government is more appreciative that the fleet industry can help to deliver its wider economic and environmental ambitions.

He added: “The Treasury is giving back some of the unfair company car tax windfall it was set to receive … and providing some essential extra visibility on future tax costs for those looking to order their next vehicle. This is a good day for company car drivers and our members.”

Ellie Baker, brand manager at Fuel Card Services, comments: “Company car tax is just one of the many costs associated with running a business, but this freeze could provide a vital saving for fleet operators across the country.”

UK LCV sector

UK LCV sector secures 6 months consecutive growth

Figures published by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) have highlighted a sixth consecutive month of growth in the UK’s light commercial vehicle (LCV) sector.

According to the body, LCV registrations increased by 13.5 per cent in June in comparison to the same time last year.


Sustained growth in consumer appetite


The excellent results witnessed in the first half of 2019 mean the period of January to June saw almost 200,000 registrations take place – an increase of 8.7 per cent against H1 2018.

Responding to the figures, SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes said: “With many LCVs playing a crucial role in urban areas, getting more of the latest, cleanest and most fuel efficient models onto our roads is essential to help improve air quality – so it’s good news to see the UK van market performing so well.”

That said, Mr Hawes warned that continued good fortunes for the sector will be reliant on a range of factors not necessarily in the industry’s control.

This includes securing a rise in business confidence in the months ahead, as well as an end to the uncertainty that has been caused by Brexit.

Jenny Smith, general manager for Tele-Gence, commented: “LCVs are the lifeblood of businesses up and down the country, so it’s great to see businesses continue to invest in these versatile vehicles, even when the future for many companies is not entirely certain.”

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