Monitoring driver health will improve public safety in urban areas, says Backhouse

Operators must continue to monitor the health of their drivers in order to mitigate the risks of the business and improve the safety of the public.

Speaking at the Freight in the City Expo 2017 yesterday (7 November) James Backhouse, partner at Backhouse Jones Solicitors, cited the example of the Glasgow bin lorry crash which led to the deaths of six people in December 2014.

He said that the driver of the vehicle, in a previous employment, had an unconscious episode.

“He was in charge of a significant vehicle and suffered from medical issues that severely impacted the people around,” Backhouse said.

“After the Glasgow crash, there was an inquiry. It is important if you are employing drivers that you understand what the recommendations of that report were. The reality is, it is worth a read, as with the best will in the world you do not want it to be one of your drivers in one of your branded vehicles having a crash.”

Backhouse explained that middle-aged men – predominantly drivers – are not good at reporting issues to the doctors. He added that colleagues will spot patterns of behaviour, such as going to sleep regularly in the afternoon.

“It is very important to be alive to this. Look at your employment procedures for induction and HR. The reputational harm of one of these incidents is not to be taken lightly…” Backhouse warned.

He did concede that there was a possibility of discrimination, as anything to do with mental health is private and personal information. “This has to be dealt with with discretion,” he warned. “It cannot form the basis of tittle tattle. There is a real risk of prosecution for manslaughter if these issues are not addressed.”

Read the full Fatal Accident Inquiry into the Glasgow Bin Lorry crash here.

Fraikin’s compliance and technology guidebooks available at Freight in the City Expo

Fraikin will be giving away free printed copies of its latest ‘What You Need to Know’ guidebooks at next month’s Freight in the City Expo in London.

They have been designed to help commercial fleet operators stay up-to-date with key legislative issues and changing technology in the road transport industry.

The ‘Sustainable Transport and Clean Air’ guidebook is essential reading for operators working in an urban environment, according to the rental and fleet management firm, and will help inform them ahead of crucial fleet investment decisions.

It includes topics such as Euro-6 and beyond, ultra-low-emission zones and future fuels, and gives details of where operators can turn to for independent advice.

“It’s clear to many in the sector that the road transport industry has to become more environmentally aware than it is at present,” Fraikin sales director Colin Melvin told

“Operators with urban fleets understand this most, with a myriad of legislation coming into effect that will directly affect their operations.”

He added: “At Fraikin, we work hard to be ahead of this curve, offering fleet solutions that suit the requirements of any customer operating in an urban environment.”

The second guide available at the show will be ‘What You Need to Know on Vehicle Safety’ and will include information about recent developments such as the proposed direct vision standard in London, as well as refreshers and best practice surrounding the Health & Safety at Work Act 1974.

Both 12-page guides are also available to download free of charge.

Fraikin said the new guidebooks revive a popular series of booklets it produced a decade ago on essential topics such as Driver CPC and digital tachographs, which saw tens of thousands of copies requested by fleets.

Further guidebooks in the range will be published later this year.


Fleet Source to focus on safe, low-emission driving skills at Freight in the City Expo

Training firm Fleet Source will be on hand at this year’s Freight in the City Expo to talk to delegates about its range of urban driving courses for commercial vehicle drivers.

LoCITY Driving, for example, is a Fors and DVSA-approved course that helps van and HGV drivers learn techniques to help mitigate their vehicles’ environmental impact on urban areas.

It focuses on the link between driving styles and fuel efficiency, journey planning, and alternative fuels.

Training is delivered as a one-day classroom-based course, complemented by separate e-learning modules for drivers and transport managers. It also counts towards a driver’s CPC requirement.

Other Fleet Source driver training courses include Safe Urban Driving, Van Smart and TruckSmart, which are all Fors-approved.

This year’s free-to-attend Freight in the City Expo will take place on Tuesday 7 November at Alexandra Palace, London.

It features a full day’s seminar programme, with an exciting exhibition of the latest urban vehicles, equipment and technology emerging onto the market to make deliveries cleaner, safer and quieter.

The expo will also be hosting TfL’s LoCITY progress event, which is an industry-led, five-year programme to increase understanding and uptake of low-emission commercial vehicles.

“We are thrilled to be involved in this year’s Freight in the City Expo,” said Nick Caesari, MD at Fleet Source. “The event provides a great opportunity to share our commitment to helping the commercial sector to reduce it’s impact on the environment.”

He added: “As London grows, so does traffic congestion and air pollution. This has a major and damaging impact on public health. Nearly 9,500 people die early each year in London because of poor air quality.

“Our LoCITY Driving course features classroom-based modules to help drivers and transport managers reduce the environmental impact of commercial vehicles.”

Metropolitan Police offering security and compliance advice at Freight in the City Expo

The Metropolitan Police Commercial Vehicle Unit will be offering a free-of-charge safety and compliance  surgery for operators and drivers at this year’s Freight in the City Expo.

Officers will be on hand at the urban-logistics themed event to provide guidance on a number of common challenges that operators face delivering into busy cities.

Advice will be available on topics including:

  • Drivers’ hours and tachograph use including the operators responsibilities in relation to record keeping.
  • CPC obligations, operator and vehicle obligations under Construction & Use plus Road Traffic Legislation, and potential draft legislation that may impact hauliers.
  • TfL initiatives within London, such as Safer Lorry Scheme, Clocs and the Direct Vision Standard.
  • The effect of Thames Tideway and Heathrow Airport construction projects on HGV use and congestion.
  • Road traffic collision advice and general policing matters.

Sergeant Wayne Watling will also be taking part in the conference programme to talk about some of the key work taking place around London to protect operators from the threat of terrorist and security incidents.

He will look at current Metropolitan Police initiatives to improve the security of HGVs and operating centres in and around the capital, as well as offering sensible advice for drivers to limit the risk in the event of a vehicle hijack and to ensure they always park securely.

Freight in the City takes place on 7 November at London’s Alexandra Palace. It is free to attend and combines a packed seminar programme focused on urban logistics best practice, with a large exhibition of vehicles, technology and services for city operations.

Register today for your free place.

Majority of subbies must now have FORS to tender for contracts

Clients are increasingly mandating Fors accreditation from their subcontractors, with approaching half now demanding the silver level.

A survey of 167 members of FORS found almost three-quarters had been asked to obtain FORS accreditation to gain access to contracts.

The survey also found:

  • 128 separate companies identified that specify FORS
  • Of these specifiers 7% asked companies to be registered to the scheme, 29% to be at bronze level, more than half (53%) at silver and 11% gold (the highest level)
  • The time given to gain accreditation varied from 30 days to six months
  • 40% of respondents ask companies who work in their supply chain to become FORS accredited
  • 20% of respondents asked to become FORS accredited were provided with guidance from the specifier

“This shows that sites are being serious about the wide-ranging benefits of FORS silver,” said Paul Wilkes, FORS business services manager.

“Actions to minimise road risk have become business as usual for many operators and the FORS Standard represents best practice.”

Members of FORS are encouraged to progress through the accreditation levels from bronze, to silver and then gold.

There are currently more than 800 FORS silver members.

The survey also found that 40% had asked companies in their supply chain to become FORS accredited.



Retiming deliveries could lead to cyclist deaths, says SteerSafe

Moves to encourage out-of-hours deliveries in London, aimed at cutting congestion, have been slated by safety campaigners who warn they could lead to more cyclists’ deaths.

Road safety campaign SteerSafe said this week that any move to night-time deliveries should be accompanied by a mandatory requirement for hauliers to install 360-degree camera systems on their trucks.

The call came after TfL launched a campaign to retime deliveries to shops, pubs, hotels and restaurants during off-peak hours to cut congestion.

SteerSafe founder Chris Hanson-Abbott said: “Moving deliveries to off-peak hours throws up a host of safety issues. The point is that blind spots exist at any hour of the day or night and at night people are less visible and drivers can be less alert, and audible warning systems are switched off.”

He added: “I would like to see the mandatory fitting of 360-degree camera systems. These give drivers a view all around the vehicle via a single glance at a screen in the cab. That’s the only way to eliminate all blind spots.”

FTA head of policy for London Natalie Chapman said: “London is a 24/7 city with an increasing population. That is driving greater demand for goods and services and London is struggling to accommodate that need in daylight hours and so other options have to be explored.

“We are not arguing for all deliveries to be switched to 
night time. The aim is to ease 
peak traffic, particularly in the morning rush, which is so dangerous for vulnerable road users, by spreading those traffic levels throughout the day and night.”

Register today for a free Clocs seminar at Tip-Ex and Tank-Ex exhibition

Tip-ex and Tank-ex visitors are invited to take part in a free-of-charge Clocs seminar during the first day of the Harrogate event.

You’ll be able to hear the latest scheme expansion plans, a local authority perspective on why they are encouraging supply chains to adopt the standard, a construction client’s take on why Clos is embedded in its procurement contracts, as well as an interactive Q&A session.

The seminar will take place at 2pm on Thursday 1 June at the Harrogate Convention Centre.

Register today to receive full programme details.

Both Greater Manchester and Northumberland City Council are encouraging operators across their localities to adopt Clocs in their operations.

Self-driving Volvo FM refuse lorry makes UK debut

Volvo Group debuted a self-driving FM refuse truck at its UK Innovation Summit this week, to demonstrate the potential safety and environmental benefits for urban areas.

The concept truck has been developed and tested over the past two years in collaboration with Swedish waste and recycling firm Renova.

Volvo Group chief technology officer Lars Stenqvist said: “There is amazing potential to transform the swift pace of technical developments in automation into practical benefits for customers and, more broadly, society in general.

“Our self-driving refuse truck is leading the way in this field globally, and one of several exciting autonomous innovations we are working with.”

How does it work?

The first time the automated refuse truck is used in a location, it is driven manually while the on-board system monitors and maps the route with the help of sensors and GPS. Upon entering the area a second time, it knows exactly which route to follow and at which bins it has to stop.

At the first stop, with the automated system activated, the driver climbs out of the cab, goes to the rear of the truck, brings out the wheelie-bin and empties it as normal. When the operation is completed, the truck automatically reverses to the next bin upon the driver’s command.

The driver walks the same route as the truck to have a full view of what is happening in the direction of travel.

Reversing, rather than driving forwards, enables the driver to remain closer to the compactor during collections.

“And since the driver doesn’t have to climb in and out of the cab at every start and stop, there is less risk of work-related injuries such as strain on the knees and other joints,” said Hans Zachrisson, strategic development manager, Renova.

Volvo said the self-driving truck aims to reduce the risks associated with reversing an HGV in urban areas, even when fitted with cameras.

Sensors continuously monitor the vehicle’s vicinity and the truck stops immediately if an obstacle suddenly appears in its path, or if the driver activates the emergency stop function.

It also has potential for lowering fuel consumption and emissions, as gear changes, steering and speed are constantly optimised.


The joint research project with Renova will continue until the end of 2017 and will be followed by an evaluation of functionality, safety and the acceptance of drivers, road users and residents.

However, the manufacturer said a lot more R&D work remains before self-driving refuse trucks will become a reality on our roads.

Instead, it believes varying degrees of automation will probably be introduced earlier in other applications, where transport operations take place within strictly confined areas.

For example, the technology used in the refuse lorry research is also being used in a trial of a self-driving truck for mining operations in the Kristineberg Mine in northern Sweden.

Volvo Group demonstrated the truck in action yesterday at its Innovation Summit in London, where it also brought its fully-electric passenger bus and the world’s first zero-emission, near-silent, all-electric excavator aimed at urban construction sites.


Renault designs low-entry, high-vision cab for Veolia’s urban multi-stop work

Renault has developed a low-entry, high-vision Range D day cab that it said “challenges the conventional approach” to tackling driver direct vision.

Working with waste management firm Veolia, Renault has designed the Range D Low to improve road safety for cyclists and pedestrians and provide easy cab access for crew members making 100-plus collections a day.

It has been developed as part of a £5m, two-year investment by Veolia to support the objectives of Clocs and work towards London’s proposed Direct Vision Standard.

The low-entry cab has a ground step height of 375mm, some 75mm lower than traditional crew cab models in this sector, according to Renault. It is accessed via two steps that sit slightly inside the cab.

This lower height is achieved by fitting 315/60 tyres and air suspension front and rear, while an additional ‘kneel’ function drops the front of the vehicle a further 50mm.

The cab features a larger window area, nearside vision panel and lowered driver position to improve direct vision of vulnerable road users around the truck.

It is is available to order directly from the factory with no additional conversion needed.

Veolia UK and Ireland senior executive VP Estelle Brachlianoff said the Range D Low would help protect other road users and assist its crew members: “This will help us to operate more productively for our many customers, and extend the safety aspects of our operations.”

Renault Trucks product manager Mike Stringer said the new cab “challenges the conventional industry solution with a traditional day cab that delivers class-leading low entry access and egress”.

He added: “Despite its lower bumper, the vehicle’s shorter front overhang compared with alternative low-entry crew cabs on the market offers an improved approach angle for easier manoeuvrability on city streets, helps with ground clearance issues to reduce vehicle damage, and crucially, enhances the field of vision.”

Based on a Range D Wide (2.3m) cab, the low-entry model is available as a 4×2 18-tonne rigid or 26-tonne 6×2 rigid tag with fixed or steered rear axle.

It uses Renault’s DTI 8-litre engine, with a choice of power ratings (250hp, 280hp or 320hp) and can be specified with a manual, Allison (automatic) or 12-speed Optidriver automated gearbox and a variety of body options.

East Lothian Council tackles air quality with help of Eco Stars commercial fleet scheme

East Lothian Council and local commercial fleet operators are working together on a new Eco Stars Fleet Recognition Scheme.

It is hoped it will improve air quality and help combat air pollution in the region.

Upon joining, operators of HGVs, vans, buses and coaches are assessed and awarded a star rating based on their performance.

A roadmap of recommendations, which will help operators to reduce vehicle emissions and operating costs, is then produced.

East Lothian Council councillor Norman Hampshire said the local authority had a statutory duty to monitor air quality for a number of pollutants, many attributed to road transport.

He said: “The council is obliged to prepare an Air Quality Action Plan, which outlines the measures it intends to take to reduce pollutant concentrations. One of the fundamental measures in the action plan is the adoption of Eco Stars.

“Not only is it hoped that participation in the scheme will raise awareness of the effect of vehicle emissions upon the environment and health, but it will also encourage and help fleet operators to run their vehicles in an efficient and green way.”

The Eco Stars Fleet Recognition Scheme was originally set up in South Yorkshire in 2009 and has 25 schemes in the UK and several more in Europe.

Consultancy TRL manages the scheme on behalf of local authorities.

This latest scheme is the ninth to be launched in Scotland.

Inaugural members of the East Lothian scheme (pictured at the launch) include DHL/NISA, Eagle Couriers and Menzies Distribution.