Fleet managers overwhelmed by big data

Written on November 25, 2015

The possibilities presented to fleet managers by the use of big data is considered overwhelming, with many managers risking collecting too much data without having a strategic plan in place for actually using it.

Chevin Fleet Solutions found that some fleets had taken sophisticated telematics packages on but that have then turned off the data feed after a fortnight due to being suddenly swamped by data for which they found they had no purpose.

It’s a problem that has occurred a number of times in other industries, with the increasing use of new technology meaning that the amount of data currently available to fleets is beginning to rise by a significant amount.

Ashley Sowerby, managing director for Chevin, Said:

“The flood of data can leave fleet managers confused. We can see it in fleets that take large amounts of maintenance data, for example, and this something that is only going to get more acute with the rise of the connected car.

“It might be impressive for you to glance at your screen and know that the engine of a vehicle 200 miles away is turning over 1,800 rpm – but does it really help you to manage your fleet more effectively?”

Before committing to use data, fleets should take the time to ensure it will actually be of real benefit to them.

European governments agree to real world emissions test

Written on November 20, 2015

European governments agree to real world emissions test

The limits of nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions from diesel cars have been upon by EU governments, and have been announced to be double the Euro 6 levels agreed back in 2007.  The EU has also agreed to delay the implementation of new limits for all new cars until 2019.

MEPs recently called on the EC and member states to introduce a real-world testing programme for diesel vehicles, in order to ensure the level of diesel emissions are in line with current Euro 6 limits.  Following on from this decision, all new cars from 2021 will be allowed to exceed 50 per cent for NOx than the current Euro 6 limit of 80mg/km

National experts in the Technical Committee on Motor Vehicles (TCMV) agreed the new limits, which will now be sent into three-way negotiations between the Ministers for the Environment and the European Commission.  From September 2017, new car models will have to pass the new emissions test if they’re to meet type approval.

EU Comissioner Elzbieta Bienkowska said:

“The EU is the first and only region in the world to mandate these robust testing methods.”

Louise Duprez, senior policy officer for air pollution at the European Environmental Bureau, said:

“With the Volkswagen scandal fresh in their minds, MEPs had a major opportunity to right a wrong and take action to clean up Europe’s air. In the weeks and months ahead, they have a major responsibility to secure an outcome that is going to prevent the further loss of human life.”

This year, the Commission started infringement procedures against a number of countries (including the UK, Germany, France and Spain) for failing to meet NO2 standards.

EMPs demand real-driving test by 2017

Written on November 17, 2015

The European Parliament has demanded that the European Commission and member states introduce new on-the-road test in 2017 in order to ensure that the current Euro 6 limit for diesel cars of 80mg of NOx (nitrogen oxides) are met.

The MEP resolution has also asked that the Commission set up a new European certification authority in order to ensure independence from the car industry, with only cars randomly taken from the production line being tested.

Under the current system, national authorities only test ‘golden vehicles’ specially prepared for passing tests, and there are no systematic checks  afterwards.

Julia Poliscanova, the clean vehicles office for Transport and Environment, said:

“The proposals will stop the systematic cheating of tests by carmakers and the publishing of test results that are just hot air.

“The best way to solve the dieselgate crisis is ambitious on-the-road tests to ensure cars comply with regulations in use, overseen by an independent EU-level body.”

The admission by Volkswagen that it had cheated air pollution test and the subsequent revelation that there are ever widening discrepancies between official test results and real world performance in terms of NOx and CO2 levels has caused a lot of controversy in recent weeks.

It’s expected that Italy, Spain and Sweden will offer substantial opposition, and that they’ll instead campaign to set laxer limits.

Two-thirds of drivers not recognising major symptoms of dehydration

Written on November 2, 2015

According to a new survey, around two-thirds of UK drivers are failing to recognise major symptoms of dehydration whilst driving: symptoms which include slower reaction times, a loss of focus and muscle cramps.  As a result, they are putting both other drivers and themselves at risk.

Driver errors are currently accountable for 68 per cent of all crashes in the UK, so motorists are being encouraged to take proper precautions by ensuring they’re properly hydrated before they begin each journey.

1,000 drivers were surveyed by Leasing Options, and over half claimed to be aware of the risks of driving whilst dehydrated.  However, they seemed to be doing little to actually prevent it.

Health authorities generally recommend drinking around two litres of water each day.  However, Leasing Options found that 37 per cent of those surveyed are currently only drinking around one litre each day.  18 per cent, meanwhile, said they drink less than one litre per day.

84 per cent of drivers considered drink-driving more dangerous than dehydrated driving, even though a recent study conducted by Loughborough University revealed that dehydrated driving is actually the equivalent of being over the drink-drive limit in terms of its impact on driver errors.

London and Birmingham came out on top for awareness of dehydrated driving, with 62 per cent of London drivers and 67 per cent of Birmingham Drivers stating that they are aware of the risks involved.

The survey also suggested that men are typically more aware of the risks than women.

43 per cent of drivers admitted not having a bottle of water with them whilst on long drives.

Car manufacturers ask for ‘reasonable’ timeline for real world emissions test

Written on October 26, 2015

The European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA) has called for a reasonable timeline in which to apply real driving emissions (RDE) measures.

The request has followed a meeting between the European Commission’s regulatory committee, which proposed some of the new elements considered to be essential in the legislation for RDE.

As a whole, the automobile industry believes that emissions more closely reflecting real-world conditions are necessary.  However, it is currently stressing the need for a timeline as well as testing conditions that take into account both the technical and economic realities of driving in the real world.

Erik Jonnaert, ACEA secretary general, said:

“We are fully aligned with the need to better measure the emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx) from diesel cars and vans under normal driving conditions,”

“However, it is important to proceed in a way which allows manufacturers to plan and implement the necessary changes, without jeopardising the role of diesel as one of the key pillars for fulfilling future CO2 targets.”

The ADEA has already said that it will support a robust but realistic RDE package, if it will address the key environmental issues using a two-step approach as has been agreed by the member states.

Without realistic timeframes and conditions, though, it has warned that some diesel models in particular could become unaffordable, meaning that manufacturers would have to withdraw them from sale.

The repercussions for the consumer sector could be substantial as a result.  Commercial vehicles – which are usually diesel as standard – could also be negatively affected.

“Our industry is committed to contributing constructively to the efforts of the Commission and member states to upgrade emissions testing,”

British Cities bid for low emissions funding

Written on October 23, 2015

12 cities in the UK have made a bid for £35 million of funding to help increase uptake of ultra-low emission vehicles.

The shortlisted authorities have all put forward a list of initiatives that parliament is hoping will help to position the UK as part of the world’s leading markets for electric vehicles and eco-innovation.

The new £35 million ‘Go Ultra Low’ Cities Scheme will be used to reward the local authorities that best demonstrate potential for delivering significant uptake of ULEVs.  Each of the cities that applied were expected to demonstrate a real vision for how they can become an international example of ULEV uses.

  • Those cities that win will be notified before the end of this year.
  • Some of the proposals made by cities already to have applied include:
  • A new car-scrappage scheme designed to replace conventionally fuelled vehicles with ULEVs.
  • The removal of current council vehicles, and to replace them with electric and ULEVs.
  • EV carpools to be used by public and private sector employees
  • LED streetlights that can also double-up as electric vehicle charge points.
  • Street community charging facilities in areas where charging is currently limited
  • Long-term electric vehicle parking at major transport hubs

The twelve councils to apply for the roles are the City of York Council, the Department for Regional Development of Northern Ireland, Dundee City Council, Greater London Authority, Leicester City Council, Milton Keynes Council, North East Combined Authority, Nottingham City Council, Oxford City Council, Sheffield City Council, West of England and the West Yorkshire Combined Authority.

Transport Minister Andrew Jones said:

“We are determined to maintain international leadership on the uptake of ultra-low emission vehicles. I look forward to seeing the winning ideas for greener, cheaper cars in action. This funding for eco-cities is part of our £500 million funding programme over the next five years to support British industry and achieve our ambition of almost every car, bus and van in the UK being ultra-low emission by 2050.”

Road deaths and serious injuries rise

Written on October 15, 2015

The Government has been harshly criticised following the release of Department for Transport (DfT) figures that show 1,775 people died on British roads last year: an increase of 4 per cent over the 2013 statistics.

Serious injuries also increased by 5 per cent over the previous year, reaching 22,807, the first increase in overall casualties since 1997.

Julie Townsend, deputy chief executive for road safety charity Brake, said:

‘We should be under no illusions as to the seriousness of these figures.’

‘The Government needs to get a grip of this situation and it can start by reintroducing ambitious casualty reduction targets, with an ultimate aim of reducing deaths and serious injuries on our roads to zero.’

The coalition government scrapped road safety targets in 2010, and the current Conservative administration was quoted as saying that it didn’t need ‘an arbitrary number’ to prove that it was committed to saving lives.

Neil Greig, the director of policy and research for the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM), said:

“We are clear on what needs to be done here.

“We call again for road safety targets to be reintroduced – they are an internationally recognised way of ensuring reductions are measured and achieved.”

The fleet industry has called for a re-introduction of safety targets as part of its Fleet Industry Manifesto, which was published just before the last general election took place.

Alan Prosser, director of the TTC Group, said:

‘Every year there are more than 500 deaths and thousands of people injured driving at work.’

‘Nearly all these casualties are preventable and it’s costing companies millions. The human cost is incalculable.’

An alternative argument is that the increase in fatalities and injuries is down to the increase in overall traffic itself, which increased by 2.4 per cent in 2014.

Highways England announce plan to cut fatalities by 40 per cent

Written on October 12, 2015

Highways England have announced an ambitious new goal of reducing the number of people killed or seriously injured on Britain’s roads by 40 per cent: within the next five years.

The goal is considered a stepping stone towards a more long-term strategy designed to bring the number of casualties down to zero on motorways and A-roads by 2040.

Highways England replaced the Highways Agency in April, and is currently responsible for managing and maintaining 4,300 miles of arterial routes across the UK. This current accounts for only 2 per cent of the UK’s traffic. However, it carries one-third of the total traffic in the UK, and is used by four million drivers each day.

The body has made safety its number one priority since taking over the contract, said Heather Lang, the central on-road manager for the body:

‘Our aim by 2020 is to reduce [the number of people] killed and seriously injured by 40%.’

‘That still means 1,393 people will be killed or seriously injured on the Strategic Road Network, and that’s 1,393 too many.’

Highways England is expected to publishing its strategy on achieving the challenging target, with the document to be named Driving Forward Safely.

It’s believed that greater use of the hard shoulder as an active lane will be included in the plan, following a successful trial of the tactic on the M42.

Whilst conceding that such solutions would be unlikely to control simply human error, Ms Lang highlighted that the M42 trial had indeed helped to reduce the number of incidents occurring.

Highways England is currently charged with delivering £4 of value to the UK from every £1 of it’s £7.7bn budget. It also has a commitment to clearing 85 per cent of motorway incidents within an hour in order to try and minimise congestion.

43 per cent of company cars now below 125g/km CO2

Written on October 7, 2015

New data published by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) indicates that the CO2 emissions of company car fleets have dramatically changed in the last ten years.

In the 2002/2003 tax year, more than half of company car fleets had emission values above 165g/km.  This has since fallen to just 9 per cent of fleets.

Between 2011/2012 and 2012/2013, the number of company cars emitting lower figures of less than 145g/km increased by 20 per cent, and the number of cars emitting more than that figure decreased by 32 per cent – a huge amount given the small time frame.

Almost half of the fleets have emissions of less than 124g/km, with 2 per cent of company cars having less than 95g/km.

The latest data showed that around 81 per cent of company cars currently use diesel fuel, with 19 per cent instead using petrol.  In the 2002/2003 financial year, only 33 per cent of company cars were using diesel.

Another interesting demonstration from the statistics is that a company car remains a critical recruitment tool, with 64 per cent of company car drivers noting that having the vehicle would be an important part of their decision as to whether to take the job or not.

45 per cent of company car drivers said that having a company car was something they considered to be a mark of achievement, in the recent Lex’s Autolease report, which surveyed 240 fleet managers and more than 1,000 employees.

Government plotting ‘biggest roads revolution’

Written on October 5, 2015

The government is currently proposing a number of reforms regarding the UK’s road network, including potentially altering the driving test in order to reflect a potential surge in driverless cars.

The Independent on Sunday has reported that the proposals could be the most substantial reforms made since the driving test was originally introduced in 1935.

A number of other reforms have been planned, including:

  • Closing a number of test centres
  • Cutting different jobs at motoring agencies
  • Increasing the fees for non-essential services (such as personalised number plates)
  • Raising the age at which drivers must declare themselves fit to drive from 70 to 75

The Department for Transport is currently preparing a consultation document on the reforms, and it’s expected that it will be published in October: the Independent has obtained a first draft of the report.

The plan is for the consultation to form the basis on next year’s formal strategy on the future of the three main UK motoring agencies – the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA), the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) and the Vehicle Certification Authority (VCA).

The Independent also reported that the Government is currently undertaking a separate review of the driving test, and is also trialling a new examination in which learners are asked to follow satellite navigation directions for a twenty minute period.