Van industry calls for van grading

Written on September 30, 2016

Van auction houses are beginning to create their own vehicle grading schemes due to the lack of action within the industry.

The current used car scheme sets out nationally-agreed grades to inform buyers of a vehicle’s condition at auction, and was created back in 2012 under the supervision of NAMA, the National Association of Motor Actions. The used van market, however, is currently lacking a similar system.

Alex Wright, LCV committee chairman at NAMA, said that creating a van grading scheme would involve a ‘colossal workload’ for a relatively small sector of the market.

Mr Wright said: “I have committee members who are determined to push forward a grading scheme, but the car one does not fit. Therefore, a whole new system needs to be designed for vans at great expense for a small market.”

When asked if there was a possibility of a system being introduced within the next two years, Mr Wright noted that it was “50-50” but that he had so far received no requests from buyers for such a scheme.

“Buyer desire and need is not there at the moment and for auction houses ultimately there needs to be a return on investment,” he concluded.

NAMA’s current car grading system uses a scale of grades from one to five (or A to E) depending on defined conditions. Grade one or ‘A’ is used for a vehicle in ready to retail condition, whereas grade five or ‘E’ would be used to describe a vehicle that has suffered severe abuse and where panels may need replacing.

Simon Henstock, vice chairman for NAMA, said: “As part of our commitment to transparency with our customers, we felt it was important to develop a grading scheme for LCVs that would allow for informed decision-making and in support of online channels. While conversations with NAMA are at early stages we are aware that other members are developing their own schemes.

“It is clear that, while the various grading schemes are at different stages of development, it is in the interests of the whole industry that we work towards a national standard. BCA is actively working toward that goal and is a vocal leader in the discussions.”

Department for Transport needs plug-in plan to improve air quality

Written on September 26, 2016

A new report from the Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) has highlighted the need for a clear strategy in the Department for Transport’s battle to increase the use of ultra-low emission vehicles (ULEVs).

The EAC also criticised the department for the way in which it managed the Volkswagen cheat device scandal.

MP Mary Creagh, who chairs the committee, said: “The uptake of ultra-low emission vehicles like electric cars, is too low to meet the UK’s climate change targets at the lowest cost to the public.

“Air quality targets that were supposed to be met in 2010 won’t be hit until 2020 at the earliest. And it’s been almost a year since we discovered VW had fitted cars with cheat devices, but Government has still to decide what action to take against the company.”

The government’s current target is to have ULEVs make up nine per cent of all new car and van sales by 2020, but their figures estimate that this target will be missed. The Committee on Climate Change has highlighted the necessity of meeting the targets in the most-effective way, and the EAC has expressed its concern at the DfT having no apparent medium-term strategy to promote the use of ULEVs after 2020.

BVRLA chief executive Gerry Keaney said: “The Committee is right to highlight the continued opportunities presented by Ultra-Low Emission Vehicles, and we agree that Government should further incentivise buyers to choose them.

“The leasing sector is leading the way with the adoption of ULEVs. Some 4.2% of our leasing members’ vehicles are electric, and 3.7% of their new registrations in Q2 2016 were pure electric or plug-in electric cars. This is well ahead of the market penetration achieved across all new registrations.”

Figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) has already recognised the fleet sector’s efforts in embracing EV technology, highlight their responsibility for 72 per cent of all electric vehicle registrations in the first half of 2016.

Mr Keaney added: “Our industry is determined to reduce carbon emissions. The committee believes the Government won’t meet its 2020 target of 9% of all new cars being ultra-low emission vehicles, but we can report that 9% of BVRLA leasing members’ fleets emit less than 95g/km CO2 already.

“Businesses will only be able to continue this growth with fiscal support from the Government. We urge it to introduce a workplace charging point grant scheme, narrow the CO2 gaps between tax bands at the lower end of the company car tax scale, and make a bigger commitment to in-life incentives for users of plug-in electric vehicles.”

Government ‘fails’ to deliver air quality improvements

Written on September 20, 2016

New research has suggested that UK transport planners are not accounting enough for environmental factors when making choices.

Road transport is currently the principal cause of air pollution in more than 95 per cent of designated Air Quality Management Areas, and around 50,000 deaths each year can be attributed to affected air according to the latest estimates.

However, despite considerable policy and practise activities since the 1995 Environment Act – which committed the UK to improving air-quality – real-time measurements show that little has actually improved. The research from the Royal Geographical Society showed that according to internationally-accepted standards, there has been little increase.

Dr Tim Chatterton and Professor Graham Parkhurst, both of whom work for the University of the West of England in Bristol, reviewed findings from a range of different projects in order to try and identify why air pollution from road transport has shown so little reduction across the previous two decades.

The underlying research applied a number of analytical methods, including in-depth analysis of local authority approaches of managing air quality, evaluating government data taken from MOT tests, analysis of longitudinal air quality data and analysing various studies taken by the Department of Transport into both people’s attitudes and their transport choices.

One of the most interesting statistics showed that despite pollution accounting for 15 to 30 more times the annual number of deaths than road traffic accidents (RTAs), the latter still receives far more attention from transport planners. Air pollution, meanwhile, is still a shared priority rather between the Department for Transport and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

Professor Parkhurst said: “Air pollution is perhaps the grossest manifestation of a general failure of UK transport planning to take the environmental impacts of transport choices sufficiently into account.

“Currently air pollution is a shared priority between Defra and DfT, but shared priority does not mean equal priority. Environmental managers only identify and monitor the problems. Insufficient relevant priority has been given within the sector responsible for most relevant emissions – transport policy and planning – which has instead prioritised safety and economic growth.”

Fuel prices increase in August

Written on September 15, 2016

Reports from RAC Fuel Watch showed that the average cost of petrol and diesel on UK forecourts rose in August, despite the cuts made at the beginning of the month.

A litre of unleaded was sold for an average of 111.5p at the end of the month, an increase of 0.33p on prices earlier this month. The average cost of diesel, meanwhile, increased by 0.77p. This brought it close to the 2016 high of 112.81p.

Though these increases weren’t too substantial, the effects of them cancelled out the July fall in average prices of both fuels.

Supermarkets reduced the cost of a litre at the beginning of August following on from a request by the RAC. This helped to force down forecourt costs, but since then they have begun to increase again.

Increases in cost were triggered by the rise in the cost of oil, which went up by 6 dollars (a 15 per cent increase) during August. Oil prices are currently the biggest variable impacting petrol forecourt costs.

The typical cost of filling up a 55-litre family car currently stands at £61.33 for unleaded, and £62.5 for diesel.

Simon Williams, RAC fuel spokesman, said: “There was a strong case for a 3p per litre cut in the price of petrol and diesel in late July, and it was a relief to see retailers going some way towards passing on savings to motorists at the start of August. Since this point however, the oil price has rebounded slightly which has had the effect of pushing up wholesale fuel prices again.

“Motorists have benefited from some slightly cheaper fuel prices in August compared to July, which will have come at a helpful time given the school holidays.

“It is still the case however that the average price of unleaded petrol grew at its slowest rate in more than a year in August, and we are thankfully still a little way off the sorts of average prices we saw earlier in 2015 when petrol hit 117p per litre and diesel nearly 121p per litre.”

In terms of regional increases, the north of England saw the biggest changes in cost, with a litre of petrol increasing from 0.57p to 111.18p. Northern Ireland was the only area that recorded a fall, with costs decreasing by 5p.

Driver distraction still a major car concern

Written on September 9, 2016

New research from RAC Business has revealed the major concern many businesses feel regarding their own drivers being distracted by in-car technology, especially technology arising from ‘connected’ cars.

The research highlighted employer attitudes towards the increasing connectivity found in business vehicles, with 51 per cent of businesses worrying about the potential for their drivers to lose concentration on the road. For smaller businesses – businesses with 100 employees or less – the figure was even higher at 55 per cent.

It is generally well accepted that equipping vehicles with WI-FI technology will allow for more and better safety features. However, there are also worries that internet access whilst driving – especially in the case of such features as receiving e-mail whilst on the road – could lead to higher levels of distraction.

More than one in three of the firms surveyed also expressed their concern at the chance of driving data being hacked, and one in five were worried about the higher level of autonomy taking responsibility away from individual drivers.

The research by RAC Business also asked businesses to investigate what the firms thought in terms of the connected car technology in general. 83 per cent highlighted the potential for diagnosing engine faults, 72 per cent said they believed it could increase fuel efficiency and 67 per cent thought it could help reduce wear and tear.

One concern noted was by RAC Telematics MD Nick Walker, who suggested that the level of insight fleet managers require may not be available unless a specialist diagnostics tool such as a black box is available.

Mr Walker said: “Connected vehicle technology represents an exciting new chapter in motoring but we feel businesses need to be clear about what it means for their vehicles, both in terms of safety and security, but also for vehicle management.”

“While connected vehicles will benefit from being able to communicate with each other and with the environment around them to make driving safer, it may not necessarily be the case that it will deliver real insight on engine performance statistics and diagnostics. Fleet managers require consistent data from their fleet to be able to fully manage downtime and risk.”

“As connected technology develops further in the transition to autonomous vehicles, telematics will be even more important for businesses needing to understand vehicle and driver behaviour.” calls for traffic light reduction

Written on September 6, 2016 has called for a re-think on the amount of UK traffic lights, following research showing that on average, motorists are currently spending 48.5 hours per year stationary at traffic lights.

The research was supported by an Institute of Economic Affairs report that put the cost of delays caused by traffic controls at £16 billion each year. Interestingly, it also claimed that four in five (80 per cent) traffic lights in the UK could easily be removed in order to help economy and road safety.

Further research showed that British motorists who drive on a daily basis spend an average of eight minutes waiting at traffic lights, which accounted for nearly a fifth (18 per cent) of their total time spent in the car. Around 15 per cent of motorists said that they spend an average of 11-15 minutes each day waiting at red lights.

New FOI data – which obtained as part of the research – showed that there are currently more than 33,800 traffic light systems in place in the UK, which is a 23 per cent increase on 2013. London currently has more traffic light systems than any other UK city at 6,297.

Nearly three in 10 respondents (29 per cent) said they had driven through a red light, 32 per cent deliberately. A number of reasons were cited for ignoring the lights, with 33 per cent claiming they were running late and 32 per cent saying they simply didn’t see it turn red. 20 per cent, meanwhile, claimed they were angry at the light for turning red.

Amanda Stretton, motoring editor for, said: “Red lights are a frustration for many drivers on the road but they are a necessity to keep traffic moving in a timely and orderly fashion. On some days, it can seem these lights are against you and it can feel like the wait is longer than normal.”

“With motorists waiting an average of eight minutes a day at traffic lights, this can add up over a year. But the risk of driving through a red light can outweigh the benefits. Rushing through a red light can cause problems for drivers and pedestrians alike. And getting caught, and incurring points, can cause problems for your insurance.”

“Should drivers be caught and issued with points for driving through a red light, or any driving misdemeanour, they need to inform their insurer. If they don’t, their policy could be deemed void or they may have to back pay their policy.”

Over half of young drivers use phones at the wheel

Written on August 30, 2016

According to a new survey from road safety charity Brake and insurer Direct Line, drivers aged between 25 and 34 are taking huge risks by frequently using their mobile phone when driving.

More than half of those surveyed by the companies admitted to either receiving or sending text messages whilst behind the wheel within the last year.

Despite any use of a mobile phone being illegal, more than 40 per cent of respondents estimated sending and receiving text messages at least once a week.

One-in-five drivers in the lower age bracket (18-24) confirmed that they send or receive texts and instant messages frequently whilst driving, with just under half admitting that they often went online or used apps – excluding Sat-Navs – whilst driving.  Almost a third of motorists in this age group claimed to do so several times a week.

Research by Brake showed that texting and other forms of instant messaging are actually more distracting than simply talking on a handset.  The unique form of communication distracts the mind hand and eyes, limiting driver reactions by 35 per cent according to the research.

Zoe Carvin, a teacher and mother of two, was killed when a text-reading driver hit her car.

Paul Carvin, Zoe’s husband, said:

“When Zoe died it was because someone did something stupid. It was such a pointless death. Her death affected hundreds of lives. Two children have been brought up without a mother, 30 children lost their teacher, a driver has been jailed for three years; his life will never be the same either.

“Crashes like this devastate families. They are entirely preventable.”

Alice Bailey, campaigns and communications executive for Brake, said:

“Younger drivers, especially those aged between 25 and 34, simply aren’t getting the message about the dangers of using a mobile phone while driving.”

“Doing any other complex task while driving hugely increases your chance of crashing. We’ve seen recent examples of drivers who have crashed while trying to play games like Pokémon Go or posting Snapchat images while behind the wheel.

“These drivers are putting their own and other people’s lives in grave danger by taking this risk. If a phone has to be used as a Sat-Nav, it must be programmed before setting off on the journey and properly secured. There is no other acceptable way to use a phone while driving.”

New research to explore younger at-work driver behaviour

Written on August 26, 2016

DriveTech has announced substantial new research on the behaviour of younger at-work drivers and is planning to release the information at Fleet Management Live, one of the industry’s major events which will take place at the end of October.

Many organisations are aware of the importance of introducing occupational road risk solutions, but it’s already well known that young people in particular face a higher risk on the road.

The road mortality rate for younger people – classed in this instance as those under thirty – is 69 per cent higher according to a report by the European Transport Safety Council.

Independent market research company Road Safety Analysis will be carrying out the research for DriveTech using data from between 2006 and 2015, taken from STATS19.  This is the police road traffic accident’s own reporting form and will be used to explore multiple variations on how young worker drivers become involved in injury collisions.

The research will explore when, where and why young people crash and will look at their crash characteristics when compared to other business drivers; offering insight on how fleet managers can use the information to improve their business practises.

All of the information will be released at the Fleet Management Live 2016 event in the form of a public whitepaper.

David Richards, the head of marketing and research for AA DriveTech, will be presenting the research at the event.  Mr Richards has more than a decade’s worth of experience in driver road safety and training.

AA DriveTech has already carried out a range of research in a number of ‘at-work’ driver demographics, including car, van, truck, bus and coach and it’s hoped that this research will compliment that.

Drivers warned against stopping for non-marked police

Written on August 22, 2016

Essex Police has warned motorists to avoid pulling over for anything other than a fully-marked police vehicle, following two robberies in the area.

A second theft took place between junctions 27 and 28 on the M25 mid-afternoon on July 25th.  A Ford Mondeo used a blue flashing light to get a grey Volkswagen Transporter van to pull over.

Three men – one holding handcuffs – then asked the driver of the Volkswagen to get out of his vehicle.  Two of the men then got into the van and drove off, with the Volkswagen driver unable to get the registration of the Ford.

A similar incident occurred between junctions 7 and 8 on the M11, when a white Mercedes Sprinter van was stolen by four men in a silver Ford Mondeo, who stopped it under the guise of being police officers.  One of the men had a firearm, though the two drivers of the van were left at the side of the road unharmed.

DCI Stuart Smith from the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate is leading both investigations, and said:

“In a direct response to these incidents occurring a direction has been given to our officers that they should not, unless in emergency circumstances, be in an unmarked car and attempt to stop a driver.

“We have taken this decision to safeguard motorists in Essex while these offenders remain outstanding.

“Our victims have told us that the suspects are purporting to be police officers and are wearing body armour to further enhance this deception in order to steal these vans.”

Anyone who is asked to pull over by an unmarked car appearing to be a police vehicle is requested to call 999 immediately to verify whether or not the vehicle is genuine.

Anyone with information on either of the incidents above should contact Essex Police as soon as possible.

Major London fleet bans diesel

Written on August 15, 2016

LoCITY Champion, the City of London Corporation, has decided to ban diesel vehicles from its procurement process.

The public authority is one of the leading organisations shaping LoCITY and will no longer lease or purchase diesel models when replacing parts of its 300-strong fleet in the future.

The corporation has already cut its transport NOx emissions by over 40 per cent since 2009 through the employment of newer and cleaner vehicles.  It has also been able to cut PM10 emissions even more, achieving a 50 per cent decrease in the same time period.

It has recently started encouraging businesses to limit their deliveries within the Square Mile and to start making better use of hybrid electric cars.

LoCITY was launched in January this year.  The industry-led programme was set-up with the aim of reducing emissions from commercial vehicles within the city.  It is currently working with organisations across the capital, including the City of London Corporation themselves, as well as a number of others.  LoCITY is also working with the 32 London boroughs, not to mention a range of notable businesses in the area.

Fergus Worthy, project manager for LoCITY, said:

“The City of London Corporation is leading the way in helping to reduce emissions and improve air quality for all Londoners, so we welcome its decision not to acquire any more diesel vehicles where a non-diesel alternative is available.

“As a LoCITY Champion, the Corporation is setting a great example for other local authorities, businesses and operators to follow.

“I would encourage anyone interested in following its lead by changing their own procurement processes to get in touch with LoCITY and benefit from our advice, Working Groups and resources.”

A number of different stakeholders are involved in LoCITY, including central and local government, freight and fleet operators, vehicle manufacturers, trade bodies, providers of fuel and infrastructure as well as planning and procurement officials.

The City of London Corporation is a FORS Gold operator and a market leader in terms of helping to lower emissions in the capital.