The distraction of going hands-free

Drivers up and down the country have been urged to remember the importance of keeping their eyes and minds on the road, even when using hands-free mobile devices.

GEM Motoring Assist believes UK motorists should not underestimate the level of distraction that these devices can cause.


Hands-free doesn’t mean safe

GEM road safety officer Neil Worth argued that despite hands-free devices being legal, they still pose a risk to safety for all users.

“A hands-free device may allow you to keep both hands on the wheel, but ‘hands-free’ unfortunately doesn’t mean ‘brain-free’,” he commented. “Using your phone while driving is an avoidable distraction which raises the risk you pose to other road users.”

Mr Worth reminded drivers of the potential dangers they face when they take their concentration away from the road. He went on to add that mobile devices – whether hands-free or not – present an unacceptable level of risk to all road users.

To ensure safety, GEM advises drivers to only use mobile devices – including hands-free devices – when their vehicle is safely parked. They should also spend a few minutes ahead of any journey to make important calls, as this reduces the likelihood of having to answer while on the move.

Ellie Baker, brand manager at Fuel Card Services, comments: “Keeping your mind on the road is essential to ensure safety for drivers and those around them. As such, fleet operators should be reminding their drivers to only use hands-free devices when they are absolutely necessary.”

Tyre Check

TyreSafe reminds fleets of regular tyre maintenance

Regular tyre maintenance should be an essential part of any effective fleet management regime.

This is the sentiment of UK tyre safety charity TyreSafe, which has launched a new campaign to get this message more firmly across to businesses.

The new campaign is entitled ‘Britain Works on Tyres’ and was unveiled at the organisation’s annual Briefing.

Tyre safety should be paramount

Stuart Jackson, chairman of TyreSafe, commented: “TyreSafe hopes that by sharing this message with van drivers we can help affect a change in attitude among them to consider their safety, and the safety of others on the roads, as their first priority.

“Britain Works on Tyres, but those tyres need regular maintenance.”

Companies should carry out regular tyre checks and crack down on the problem of overloading vehicles, as this can have a significant and detrimental impact on the level of wear that tyres suffer over time.

BVRLA advice also includes checking tyre pressures at the outset of every journey and topping up if needed, as well as inspecting tyres for lumps, cuts or anything “out of the ordinary” that may indicate a potential failure is getting close to happening.

The campaign aims to ensure the nation’s van owners are fully up to scratch when it comes to tyre maintenance, as figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders show these vehicles add £56 billion to the UK economy every year.

Ellie Baker, brand manager at Fuel Card Services, comments: “Vehicle maintenance is essential for the smooth operation of any fleet. Examining tyres and replacing them when necessary should be a top priority for all fleet managers.”

Mercedes-Benz premium

Mercedes-Benz remains number one

Mercedes-Benz has retained its position as number one in the premium segment despite ongoing model changes and a challenging start to the year.

The first half of 2019 saw 196,230 cars delivered by Mercedes-Benz – a decrease in unit sales primarily due to ongoing model changes for SUVs, which is the brand’s segment with the largest volume.

Maintaining leadership despite challenges

Sales momentum in the second quarter – when the brand sold 573,856 cars – was primarily due to the new compact-car models. These include the new A-Class Saloon, sold worldwide, and the new B-Class and new CLA Coupe, which are available in Europe.

Despite this -4.6 per cent drop in sales, the brand maintained its market leadership in the premium segment during the first half of 2019 in markets including the UK, Germany, France, Switzerland, Portugal, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Czech Republic, Luxembourg, Greece, South Korea, Japan, Australia and Canada.

Britta Seeger, member of the board of management of Daimler AG responsible for Mercedes-Benz Cars marketing and sales, commented: “After a challenging first half of the year, Mercedes-Benz continues to be at the top of the premium segment. We are particularly pleased with the great popularity of the new compact models.”

Ms Seeger underlined two real customer favourites are in showrooms in July: the new GLC and the GLC Coupe. The GLC has been the highest-volume model in the brand’s SUV portfolio for several years, and comes with the latest intelligent driver assistance systems, as well as MBUX as standard.

Ellie Baker, brand manager at Fuel Card Services, comments: “Despite a challenging start to the year for Mercedes-Benz, it’s encouraging to see the brand retain its number one position within the premium segment, no doubt bolstered by the popularity of its compact models.”

Top tips on vehicle maintenance from GEM

GEM Motoring Assist believes every driver should understand the basics of vehicle maintenance.

As a result, the organisation has created a range of short ‘how-to’ videos explaining everything from how to change your car’s oil to how much tread depth you need on the tyres.

Regular maintenance is key

GEM road safety officer Neil Worth commented: “These engaging videos are helpful and practical. With school holidays fast approaching and lots of long journeys in the planning, we recommend putting them to good use to ensure you’re looking after your car.”

The videos can be found on the GEM website and are hosted by feature presenter Katy Brody. Ms Brody talks viewers through a range of practical tips on home MOT checks, including how to check tyre pressure, tyre tread depth, oil levels and screen wash.

Regular vehicle maintenance is essential for drivers and fleet operators should be reminding their users of this fact. It ensures cars continue to operate safely and with top efficiency, meaning the likelihood of a vehicle breakdown is greatly reduced.

A few simple checks can make all the difference to vehicle safety and to help drivers steer clear of trouble when out on the roads.

Ellie Baker, brand manager at Fuel Card Services, comments: “Some drivers might not appreciate the importance of regular vehicle checks, so to have these videos to refer to should be a great reminder of why vehicle maintenance is always best practice to avoid unexpected hiccups in your journeys.”

Hands of car mechanic working in auto repair service with the "My Service Expert Logo" in the bottom left corner

Volvo Car UK

More fleet owners opting for Volvos

More fleet owners than ever are choosing Volvos as their company cars, if new sales figures are anything to go by.

According to Volvo Car UK, the brand recorded a 43 per cent rise in true fleet sales for January to June 2019, making it the fastest-growing brand in the sector.

A growing choice for businesses

More than 8,500 cars were sold for business use during this six-month period, contributing significantly to the 30,000 units sold overall.

This keeps the company on target to meet its ambition of selling 60,000 units every year by 2020 and marks a 27 per cent increase on the number sold last year.

Volvo has been focusing heavily on its offerings for business customers, having recently launched a virtual sales team and business sales manager to help busy fleet owners source vehicles for their companies.

Managers may also have been more tempted to try a Volvo after the brand demonstrated a winning streak at industry awards during the start of the year.

Its XC40 won New Company Car of the Year at the Fleet News Awards – the first ever SUV to do so – and the XC40 Momentum T3 scooped Best Compact SUV in the Business Motoring Awards.

Looking ahead, the highly-anticipated XC40 T5 Twin Engine plug-in hybrid is likely to encourage even more interest among business owners.

Volvo Car UK spokesperson Steve Beattie said: “The strong increase in true fleet sales is testament not only to our fantastic new product range, but also to the dedication of our fleet team and their unremitting focus on making life easier for our business customers.”

Volvo has produced more than 21 million cars since 1927.

Ellie Baker, brand manager at Fuel Card Services, comments: “Volvo has always been renowned for its safety, comfortable ride and engineering, so we’re not surprised to see fleet owners viewing it as their go-to brand.”