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Funding for Plug-In Points Becomes More Accessible but Where Does it Leave HGV Refuelling Stations?

Electric plug in pointWith individuals and businesses across the globe seeking a cleaner, greener way of living it is no wonder that green technology is becoming more and more popular, and more importantly accessible to people from all walks of life. Government funding for plug-in points for electric vehicles is just one area that has been revolutionised in the fight to make green technology fully accessible, however we want to explore where Heavy Goods Vehicles (HGVs) and the fleet operators that manage them stand not just in regards to plug-in grants but the gas stations used by traditionally fuelled lorries and vans?

About the plug-in electric vehicle grants available

With the grant scheme for plug-in points revised earlier this year, many electric vehicle owners simply don’t know where they stand when it comes to the latest rules. Whilst the £5,000 subsidy has now been scrapped there is still financial assistance available for owners of qualifying cars.

The amount of funding available may be reduced – those who were eligible for the previous £5,000 grant will now only qualify for a £4,500 or £2,500 grant – the new tiered system currently in operation is designed to make the process of accessing this funding easier with efficiency categories clear for all to see. As well as making the application process more straightforward, the changes also identify a greater range of efficiency, meaning electric cars that did not qualify before 1st March 2016 may now be eligible. The rule of thumb with the revised grant however is the more efficient your electric vehicle is, the higher the grant available to you.

Are trucks eligible for funding under the revised grant?

Previously the grant was only available to smaller commercial vehicles, with those eligible weighing up to 3.5 tonnes, however the government has recently extended the eligibility of the grant, meaning larger electric vehicles now qualify. An additional £4 million has been added to the scheme with electric vehicles, more specifically trucks, of 3.5 tonnes and over able to access funding of up to £20,000.

The move is all a part of the wider mission to reduce emissions from UK transport use, and for many fleet managers the grant extension is welcome news, particularly as more and more businesses re-evaluate the green credentials of their commercial vehicles. This recent expansion into vehicles over 3.5 tonnes will also make car manufacturer Nissan’s statement about electric vehicle charge points outnumbering petrol stations by 2020 even more of a surety.

What does this mean for traditionally fuelled vehicles?

While fleet managers and other commercial leaders are using recently granted access to government funding to make investments in electric vehicles, many may think that support for traditionally fuelled HGVs has fallen by the wayside. However, efforts are being made to ensure all vehicle types are being catered for as the number of gas refuelling stations for HGVs increase.

After the UK’s first grid-connected compressed natural gas (CNG) station was introduced back in March, more and more refuelling stations are appearing on-route, with one of the latest new developments at the Port of Liverpool in Seaforth opening its doors around the clock to HGVs and other commercial vehicles looking for fuel. Another state of the art, Liverpool based refuelling station is also under development and this too promises 24 hour refuelling facilities when it opens in early 2017.

In addition to refuelling stations increasing nationwide, there are also plans for 10 more CNG stations in the pipeline thanks to the partnership between HGV refuelling experts ENN and Pro-Petro Ltd.

 

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Vans Lead the Way in the Commercial Vehicle Sector with Rising Numbers Leaving HGVs in the Dust

TransitVans are officially driving the commercial vehicle sector, especially in terms of conversions, but as the growth in van numbers continues into 2017 it is heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) that are being left behind.

According to research collated by Transport for London’s Roads Task Force, there is evidence that vans are being used as substitutes for HGVs, and this trend isn’t just affecting the capital. This record number of vans has been seen throughout the UK and limited HGV use is also mirrored but why are commercial business owners and fleet managers choosing to go down this route? Here we explore this burgeoning trend and reveal what this could mean for the future of HGVs.

The statistics behind the trend

Earlier this year the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) revealed that the number of vans on British roads is the biggest ever to be recorded and as of April 2016, there was just over 4 million vans being driven on UK roads. The figures document an increase of 4.3% in comparison to 2015 and as business confidence and growth continues these numbers are expected to increase further year-on-year.

Van manufacturers have taken advantage of this trend of rising numbers too and at the UK commercial vehicle sector’s much anticipated annual exhibition, Commercial Vehicle Show, there were a record number of new van and pickup models showcased as manufacturers look to capitalise on this van use explosion. In stark comparison, whilst the domestic freight activity showed a slight increase, international freight activity and HGV usage declined from April 2015 to March 2016 in accordance with the Department for Transport’s findings. Overall there were 8% less goods lifted and 6% less goods moved.

Why the big change?

Several reasons have been attributed to the strength of van sales and the decline of HGV use on UK roads. There is less regulations affecting van drivers compared with HGV operators, regulations that can mean an unlimited amount of paperwork for fleet operators. Even speed limit changes that should have tipped the balance towards HGV use have had the opposite effect with the aftermath of HGV speed limit increases on rural roads, as introduced last April, making lorry journeys slower than ever.

Fleet managers and commercial business owners may also be favouring the use of vans due to fewer skills being required to operate such a vehicle. Whilst HGV drivers much obtain a professional driving qualification, known formally as the Driver Certificate of Professional Competence (CPC), the standard UK driving licence (more specifically category B) means you can drive any van type as long as it weighs less than 3,500kg. With a salary of up to £35,000 per annum, HGV drivers also cost more making lower paid van drivers a much more cost effective prospect. Even for businesses looking to operate HGV fleets, the long running shortage is making HGV drivers an endangered species industry wide.

The future of HGVs

With the 600,000 licensed HGV drivers currently registered within the UK having an average age of 57 and wandering closer to retirement, the driver shortage crisis is set to continue, which means more and more business owners will be looking for more viable alternatives in order to get their goods from A to B. The flexibility offered by fleets of vans is another key reason why the future of HGVs may not be looking so bright, and industry experts expect the van favouring trend to continue as a result, despite the inefficiency that will be encountered in terms of load capacity.

 

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Volkswagen Transporter is 66 years old!

Old TransporterNow one of the most coveted retro vehicle models around, the Volkswagen Transporter is definitely the cool kid on the block but it hasn’t always been this way. Celebrating its 66th birthday this year, VW camper vans were once commercial workhorses known for their versatility not their good looks, and whilst the older models have become something of a collector’s item, Volkswagen Group’s sixth generation model, known officially as ‘T6’, is carrying on this tradition.

The history of VW’s T Series

Officially the bestselling van model of all time, the Volkswagen Transporter has sold 12 million units across the globe. From its T1 version, manufactured from 1950 to 1967, to its latest T6 model, introduced this year, the Transporter is an iconic commercial vehicle, and throughout its history has outshone competitors Ford Transit, Toyota Hiace and Mercedes-Benz Vito.

Volkswagen T1s are the first model that comes to mind when we think VW camper, and this was the first generation to kick start production in the Transporter family. Manufactured between 1950 and 1967 in Europe and the US, and from 1950 to 1975 in Brazil, the T1 – which was called Type 2 at the time, as were VW’s T2 and T3 models – was built in Germany and was cutting edge at the time. In addition to its eye catching split windscreen, which has earned the model the nickname ‘Splittie’ in recent years, the T1 incorporated an air cooled engine mounted to its rear, an engine type that was upgraded in 1953 to unlock greater brake horse power (bhp).

Like all of the Transporter range, the T1 was available in a selection of body styles, with the T1 accessible as a 5-door panel van, 5-door minibus, 2-door pickup, or 3-door pickup. More incarnations of the Transporter Series emerged namely the T2 (manufactured from 1967 to 1979), T3 (1979 to 1992), T4 (1990 to 2003), T5 (2003 to 2016) and the T6 (from 2016 to present).

Introducing the T6

The T6 Transporter is the latest model in the series and was released by Volkswagen earlier this year. The sixth generation model has already been named ‘International Van of the Year 2016’ with its range of features already proving popular with commercial business owners. Volkswagen attributes the superior quality of its T6 model to being able to perfect technology across multiple generations and as well as incorporating a new 2.0 TDI and BiTDI diesel engine with the EU6 emissions standards, the larger load capacity and vast choice of seating and compartment options are all features appreciated by their customers.

To improve efficiency and performance further, the T6 uses BlueMotion Technology, which unlocks Start/Stop, regenerative braking and low rolling resistance tyres. Inside the vehicle a touch screen display helps drivers to access yet more technology, including DAB+ radio, Bluetooth, satellite navigation and other driver assistance systems such as a Front Assist with City Emergency Braking System, Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC), High Beam Assist and Driver Alert.

Celebrate with Volkswagen

With Volkswagen marking two model 66th birthdays this year – the Volkswagen Group celebrates subsidiary SEAT’s 66th birthday this year too – there is much to celebrate! As always there are a variety of regional events in the calendar to celebrate the VW T Series in all its glory – this year’s Southsea BeachBuggin’ event, the ultimate VW show where hundreds of old splitties from all eras gathered in August, was a particular highlight – with Camper Jam, BusFest, Van Fest and Bonaween all offering plenty of family friendly VW fun. The Classic Motor Show and North Devon’s Final Fling are both still to come for 2016.

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Electric Vans: Is Now the Right Time to Plug In?

Electric VansLow emissions driving is becoming more popular than ever, and over 70,000 people in the UK have already made the switch from petrol or diesel to electric. As a commercial vehicle operator or fleet manager, cutting costs fleet wide is of course a main priority but what role do electric vehicles play in achieving this goal?

Fuel savings, low maintenance and major tax breaks make going low emissions more accessible than ever before, and with the availability of government grants slashing the showroom value of electric vans and other vehicles dramatically, the only major concerns left are whether electric alternatives can indeed go the distance, and once recharging is required, are plug in points really as reachable as they make out? Here we take a look at the current state of the charge point network, the government funding available for plug in points, and just how the petrol and diesel powered commercial vehicle world is fighting back…

Charging electric vehicles

Charging your electric vehicle both at home and on the move is a point that many potential low emission investors make against opting for this greener way to drive, but as the number of low emission drivers increases so too does the network of charge points. There are now more than 11,000 charge points based around England and Wales, and roughly 96% of motorway service stations are also fully equipped with at least one rapid charger, which charges an electric vehicle to at least 80% in under 30 minutes. As well as charge points on the road being more accessible, and journeys in electric vehicles more comfortable and confident as a result, installing a plug in point in your business premises or even your home is now possible thanks to specialised government support.

Government funding for plug in points

In addition to providing grants to lower the price you pay at the showroom for your electric vehicle, shaving up to £4,500 off a brand new electric car and up to £8,000 off an electric van via the Plug-in Car Grant and the Plug-in Van Grant, support is also available to minimise the cost of any equipment or installation fees associated with home and business charge point fitting.

Whether you have off-street or on-street parking at your residence, the Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV) will cover 75% of the cost. The eligibility criteria for the Electric Vehicle Homecharge Scheme has recently changed. From the 1st July 2016, a grant of up to £500 – this funding was originally capped at £700 including VAT – will be available to those who have taken keepership of an electric vehicle. Whilst this vehicle can be new or secondhand, it must be a make and model that is eligible. This means that drivers can charge vehicles at their homes easily and safely.

Are fuelled vehicles soon to be made redundant?

Whilst the role of electric vans is growing, and is likely in the future to overtake the numbers of fuelled vehicles on our roads, the increasing number of refuelling stations for HGVs shows that there’ll always be a place for diesel and petrol powered vans in the commercial vehicle world, after all low emission driving isn’t for everyone.

Traditional refuelling is undergoing its own evolution; recently HGV refuelling experts ENN and Pro-Petro Ltd teamed up to launch the UK’s first open access natural gas vehicle refuelling station, and plans for 10 more similar stations are also in the pipeline. Our world is changing and hopefully to a cleaner better future for commercial vehicles.

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Van Safety: What Should the Driver Check Every Day?

Van safetyAs a manufacturer in the van access and protection market, we understand more than most that van safety matters. With more than 4 million vans being driven on UK roads at the last count, vans and other commercial vehicles are the backbone that keeps small and large sized businesses satisfying their own customers, however without the right maintenance these companies will quickly find that their fleet is actually a drain on resources.

According to the latest statistics gathered by the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (VOSA), of the 10,800 vans stopped annually at the roadside, 88.5% were overloaded, 63% had serious mechanical defects and 50% would fail an MOT. Carrying out relevant safety checks daily, not just at your next MOT or service, is a vital part of van maintenance and without them you could find yourself facing a hefty fine, van prohibition or vehicle immobilisation. Here we take a closer look at the van safety checks every driver should be completing every day…

Your daily checklist

By following this simple van user checklist you can ensure that your van is maintained to a high level, free from mechanical defects and not driven whilst overloaded.

  1. Be aware of your vehicle’s maximum payload to avoid overloading, and when towing make sure that the tow bar and trailer of the van is secure and any electrical connections are fully operational
  2. Check your brake pedal and parking brake, both should experience very minimal play whilst the latter should hold your fully loaded vehicle when stationary
  3. Each tyre should have a minimum tread depth of 1.6mm, be correctly inflated, its sidewall must be free from deep cuts, cord should not be visible on the tyre, and all wheel nuts should be present and secure
  4. Your van’s lights, indicators, marker lights and dashboard warning lights should work correctly
  5. The windscreen wipers and washers must also be in good working order, i.e. able to clear the windscreen of debris when switched on, whilst your washer fluid should be topped up at all times
  6. All mirrors should be fully secured to your vehicle, aligned to the driver’s preference, and free from damage and discoloured glass
  7. Seats should be secure and the seatbelt on each fully operational and free from damage
  8. The levels of fluids, fuel and oil should be checked before every journey regardless of its length, this includes the brake fluid, engine coolant, engine oil, power steering fluid and windscreen washer fluid. Your vehicle should also be free from leaks with all caps able to be fully secured
  9. Your van’s bodywork and doors require attention too, all doors should be secure when closed and the bodywork should be free from damage and sharp edges, paying special attention to the van’s body panels.

Additional safety measures

To enhance safety further, there are a number of innovations that make great investments for drivers of vans and commercial vehicles. Our range features a diverse selection of specialist equipment, each of which is designed and developed to protect your vehicle, allow easy access for drivers and improve safety. Our Safe T Bar and Safe T Step products are made from the highest quality materials and approved to the highest standards to provide various benefits to not just the driver but all those who encounter the vehicle.

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Your Guide to Ultra-Low Emission Vans

CO2_car_image-low-emission-vehicle-370Ultra-low emission vehicles have dominated the motoring headlines for a number of years, and now thanks to the launch of joint government and car industry campaign, Go Ultra Low, switching to electric has never been so easy or beneficial. There are many advantages of going ultra-low for commercial vehicle operators and fleet managers, harnessing huge fuel savings being one of them, but what are the latest trends in the van world and just how successful is the adoption of electric vehicles in the commercial sector?

Why go ultra-low?

As we’ve briefly mentioned, opting for an ultra-low emission van could in fact have more benefits than you think, and thanks to the government backed Go Ultra-Low scheme the adoption of electric vehicles is more accessible than ever. The fuel savings aspect of ultra-low emission vehicles is of course one of the main advantages, after all fleet managers and commercial vehicle operators are always looking to save money. The latest research shows that ultra-low emission vans could unlock fuel savings of up to £1,500 per year in comparison to the diesel fuelled vehicles usually deployed throughout the commercial sector. Even if half of the 3.7 million vans currently operating on UK roads made the switch fuel cost savings would be a colossal £2.6 billion!

In addition to saving on fuel, ultra-low emission van owners will spend less on maintenance fees and tax rates.

The latest developments

The ultra-low emission vehicle sector is constantly evolving, however thanks to the latest developments and growing government support, electric cars and vans are not only cheaper to run than their petrol and diesel powered alternatives but more affordable to buy. As well as benefiting from sizable tax breaks and fuel savings, the government grants now available make electric company cars and fleet vehicles a worthy investment. Fleet managers and commercial vehicle operators can get up to £4,500 off the showroom price of a new electric car or up to £8,000 off the price of a low emission van courtesy of the Plug-in Car Grant and the Plug-in Van Grant. Grant eligibility is dependent on the electric vehicle make and model, and the criteria is split into three categories as a result.

Thanks to these grants, both of which aren’t as complex to access as you think, more and more commercial vehicle operators and fleet managers are investing in low emission driving, and overall more than 70,000 drivers have already made the switch.

What do you need to consider?

After considering the cost of your low emission investment and the benefits that go hand-in-hand with driving an electric van, there are other factors that must be deliberated before going electric. The range of your ultra-low emission van may be a concern, especially as you will be using it to transport goods or deliver services on behalf of your business. It may surprise you that some electric vehicle models have a particularly long range, and can travel up to 700 miles off one charge.

The accessibility of recharging points for electric vehicles may also be a concern, however, whilst they may go unnoticed, there are over 11,000 charge points in the UK at present, and this number is growing. Amazingly 96% of motorway service stations have a rapid charger that will recharge your low emission vehicle to at least 80% in under 30 minutes, which gives you or your driver just enough time for lunch!

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50 Years of Ford Transit

Ford Transit1965 wasn’t just the year that The Beatles released the album Rubber Soul, or even just the year that Winston Churchill passed away and a state funeral like no other was held in his honour, it was also the year that the Ford Transit was born! Yes, the nation’s favourite and most iconic van is currently celebrating its 50th birthday, and market leading vehicle manufacturer Ford certainly knows how to celebrate in style. As well as dedicating this blog entry to revelling in the history of the Ford Transit van, we reveal what Ford is doing to celebrate the anniversary of this commercial best seller and British van hero.

Where it all began

It was in October 1965 that the Transit rolled off the production line and onto our roads. An inspiring sight for Ford, the Transit was designed and developed to replace the Thames 400E, offering something bigger, better and more adaptable. The Transit was the subject of the co-development partnership between Ford of Britain and Ford of Germany, and each combined their knowledge and expertise in what is now considered the hub of Ford’s early activity, the manufacturer’s Langley headquarters, also the site of Spitfire builds during World War II.

Its main competition at the time was the Bedford CA, however Ford used its American identity to pioneer something that was not only distinctive in design but a vehicle that was much more useful. The design itself used short V4 engines fitted at the front of the vehicle, which gave the van a greater loading capacity and transformed van use for businesses not just in the UK but around the world. It wasn’t just one model that made its way onto the light commercial vehicle market during that fateful month, Ford introduced panel van, pick up and minibus models to ensure at least one would work for their clientele, and as a result the Transit brand gained a bevy of loyal fans.

The brand evolves

It wasn’t until 1978 that the second generation Ford Transit was developed and seven years later in 1985, Ford proudly announced that it had witnessed its two millionth Transit exit the production line. In addition to still being one of the most popular and best-selling commercial vehicles across Europe – some eight million Transits have been sold globally since its introduction in 1965 which equates to a customer buying a new van every 180 seconds during its lifetime – the Transit has a number of records to its name, including world records for endurance and towing.

Let the celebrations commence!

To celebrate this momentous occasion, Ford has been honouring 50 years of Transit incarnations all over the world. The party began at the NEC Commercial Vehicle Show in Birmingham where the manufacturer showcased their full range of Transit vans, which included a golden van alongside four new models, namely the Transit, Transit Custom, Transit Connect and Transit Courier. Commemorations followed at events around the world, enabling Transit enthusiasts everywhere to join the celebrations.

Whilst the Transit is no longer manufactured in the UK, it’s safe to say that the Transit is still very much an icon that should be celebrated, and few vans in fact have made such an impact on the world and more specifically motoring history.

Happy 50th birthday Ford Transit!

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Your Guide to the SMMT Van Maintenance Campaign

Van MaintenanceUpholding the highest standards of health and safety isn’t just a moral obligation but a legal one. Road safety is drilled into us from the moment we get behind the wheel, and for good reason, but the lessons don’t end when you pass your test and receive your licence. For commercial vehicle operators and their fleet managers, van maintenance is a vital part of ensuring the latest health and safety requirements are met.

The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) is known for its stringent roadside checks but with the latest statistics released by the government department, failing to take care of your commercial vehicle could land you in more hot water than you think.

The UK’s BIG maintenance problem

Of the 10,800 vans and light goods vehicles (LGVs) stopped by the DVSA at the roadside, 63% had a serious mechanical defect whilst 88.5% were overloaded. Whilst an annual service should prevent the majority of maintenance problems, many operators and fleet managers are simply overlooking daily checks and letting good maintenance fall by the wayside. Without a sharper approach to van safety drivers and managers are leaving themselves exposed to hefty fees with many already falling victim to such costs. Almost 50% of the vehicles that posed a road safety risk had to be taken off the road, a ruling that could cost owners up to £4,000 per day!

In regards to breaking the terms of the latest licensing rules and regulations, commercial vehicle operators could face millions in fines if they don’t correctly maintain their vehicles.

SMMT’s van maintenance campaign

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) has taken matters into their own hands to support better van maintenance and lower the likelihood of incurring additional costs and fines for operators of the 4 million plus vans currently registered in the UK.

The SMMT van maintenance campaign provides a 9-point plan so that drivers can complete daily maintenance checks with confidence. Thanks to this guide you can ensure your vehicle is maintained and you are fully prepared for the journey ahead. The campaign gives you the information you need to complete checks in the following areas:

  1. Load and towing
  2. Brakes and steering
  3. Tyres and wheels
  4. Lights and indicators
  5. Washers and wipers
  6. Mirrors and glass
  7. Seats and seatbelts
  8. Fluids, fuel & oil
  9. Bodywork and doors

The use of safety equipment

In addition to using the guide provided by the SMMT, van safety equipment is a worthwhile investment for drivers and fleet managers. Our specially developed Safe T Bar range can be used on light commercial vehicles and heavy goods vehicles (HGVs).   The Safe T Bar is fitted to Light Commercial Vehicles to help reduce damage through driver error when reversing or during loading. The rear underrun protective device (RUPDS) can be fitted easily to HGVs to protect other road users. The device uses an audible warning system to alert the driver and calls upon a swing back system to absorb impact at low speeds. Hope Technical Developments produces industry leading products to help protect drivers and other road users, and to help extend the life expectancy of light commercial vehicles and lower associated maintenance and repair costs.

For further information about our Safe T Bar and RUPD ranges please browse our website. You can also view the SMMT van maintenance guide for yourself here.

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The Future of the Commercial Vehicle World

Futuristic VanTechnology plays an important role in every individual’s life, and whilst many industry sectors have evolved to embrace the perks of the latest advancements, the commercial vehicle world has lagged behind somewhat. That is until now! The commercial vehicle industry is becoming more digitally savvy, but what does the future hold for a more technologically aware market?

Driver information on the go

My DAF is one application that has taken the commercial vehicle world, and more specifically the heavy goods vehicle (HGV) scene, by storm. Available for free download via iTunes and Google Play, the My DAF app was recently upgraded to offer a wider range of features for drivers on the road and back at base. The application allows users to view the most up-to-date DAF driver literature such as brochures, information sheets, handbooks and even the ‘DAF In Action’ magazine.

Using the app, drivers can also view numerous training materials including videos for the new LF, CF and XF models. In addition to providing essential information wherever you are, the My DAF app gives drivers the tools and support to get the very best from their chosen DAF model. The My DAF app has already been a success throughout the international marketplace, so how many other truck manufacturing companies will follow suit with their own driver applications?

Blind spot detection devices

Blind spots have been a major issue for goods vehicle operators and according to research carried out by Transport for London and Barclays Cycle Superhighways, 100% of operators said that their company would benefit from the introduction of blind spot detection technology. The findings of this research prompted an international revival of previously shelved equipment, with the Backwatch system becoming an astounding success during trials.

As well as charting no breakdowns during use, the Backwatch system and associated safety technology effectively reduced the number of collisions between HGVs and cyclists, and reduced other sources of vehicle damage from powered vehicles and street furniture. Secondary benefits included decreased costs and insurance premiums. Blind spot detectors like the Backwatch system received the thumbs up from operators thanks to their discreet and non-distracting operation and ease of use.

On-board safety equipment

Our Hope Safe T Bar and Hope Safe T Step ranges offer the latest advancements in on-board safety equipment delivering a plethora of benefits for van and commercial vehicle owners. The Safe T Bar is designed specifically for heavy goods vehicles and uses an audible warning system to alert drivers of contact with an object whilst reversing to prevent damage to vehicles and other property. Safe T Bar products are also available for light commercial vehicles.

The Hope Safe T Step on the other hand was developed for light commercial vehicles to ensure easy and safe loading and unloading.

Driverless technology

Whilst driverless cars have dominated the technology headlines in recent years, Chancellor George Osborne recently revealed that driverless lorries will be trialled in the UK. Computer controlled HGV platoons will be used to enable vehicles to move within a group resulting in major fuel savings for fleet managers.

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Abuse of Operators’ Licences – When is Enough, Enough?

Operators LicencesThe latest licensing laws can be a minefield for HGV drivers and the fleet operators that employ them, but like any piece of legislation, applying for and holding the right operator’s licence is an important part of fulfilling your obligations and meeting those statutory requirements. Under UK law, every vehicle over 3.5 tonnes needs an operator’s licence from the Department for Transport (DfT).

Depending on the type of licence held, there are a plethora of conditions that must be met, for example, the owner is liable to say where the vehicle will be parked as well as submit a record of its maintenance regime and complete 6-8 weekly checks. Unfortunately, not all operators are doing what they should in accordance with the latest goods vehicle licensing laws and many abuse the system. To ensure every goods vehicle operator is clued up on the latest requirements, we have developed an essential guide so you can discover more about the types of licence, the associated conditions and what happens if the terms of the licence are broken.

About the operator’s licence

Every lorry, van or other vehicle with a gross plated weight of more than 3,500kg must have a licence. Knowing the licence types available is the first step to preventing operator abuse.

There are three types of licences for UK goods vehicle operators, and which one you need may come down to the destination of your goods, your chosen route and your employer. The standard national licence must be held by operators who are using the vehicle to transport their own goods both within the UK and internationally. The same licence should be held by those transporting another organisation’s goods in the UK. The second licence type is the standard international licence, which should be applied for by those transporting their own goods and operators undertaking journeys on behalf of someone else in the UK and internationally. For standard international licence holders travelling between, through or exclusively within EU member countries, Community Licences must also be issued.

The third and final licence is known as the ‘restricted licence’ and allows the holder to carry their own goods for as long as they pay the continuation fee.

Terms to consider

As well as requesting additional licensing for travel in EU member countries, there are other terms that must be met. When applying for your operator’s licence you must give the address of your proposed operating centre to indicate where your vehicle and its trailers will be stored when not in use. Under licensing laws, you must carry out your own inspections and maintenance checks to ensure the vehicle you are using is safe and in good condition. The employment of other drivers also carries additional requirements.

Breaking the terms of your licence

The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) is clamping down on licence abuse and regularly carries out roadside and operating centre checks.

If your vehicle is overloaded, unroadworthy or the driver has broken the rules regarding the transport of dangerous goods or drivers’ hours, your vehicle could be prohibited. Your licence may also be revoked if terms aren’t met, your vehicle is prohibited following inspection, health and safety requirements aren’t adhered to, or you are convicted of certain offences.