SmartWitness launching ‘van cam’ safety camera suited to urban fleets

SmartWitness is launching a ‘van cam’ safety product aimed at commercial vehicles ranging from 1.5 tonnes to 4.5 tonnes.

London-based SmartWitness is already well established in the HGV sector with its KP1 forward-facing camera and is now looking to break into the van market with the launch of VanProtect.

The VanProtect system includes a forward-facing, high-resolution video camera that fits neatly behind the rear view mirror and can be locked making it tamper proof. It also features a rear-view infra-red camera for manoeuvring in the dark, and a colour monitor on the dashboard.

Designed to provide the same technology as the KP1 camera does for HGVs, the camera provides 1080 HD footage across a 170-degree range.  In the event of an incident, sensors calculate the speed and force of collision and the processor in the camera automatically buffers the previous 20 seconds prior to impact so  the details leading up to the incident are recorded.

SmartWitness CEO Paul Singh said: “Van fleets tend to get involved in more road incidents that haulage fleets.  They are often in urban areas which have higher numbers of road incidents and there are more vehicles in most van fleets.”

He added that van fleets are also increasingly being targeted by criminal gangs making bogus claims for whiplash injuries “and you simply have to have video evidence to get rid of these kinds of fraudulent claims”.

The system will also flag up to fleet managers those van drivers in need of extra training to eliminate poor driving habits.

VanProtect will be launched at this year’s CV Show at Birmingham NEC from 26-28 April

Government urged to roll-out London Safer Lorry Scheme across UK

The Transport Committee has called for the mandatory roll out of TfL’s Safer Lorry Scheme across the UK, as part of  a raft of measures aimed at improving road and cyclist safety.

It makes the recommendation in its latest Road Traffic Law Enforcement report, published today.

The committee pointed to latest road safety statistics to back its recommendations. These show that UK road fatalities rose by 4% in 2014. It also stated its “particular concern” at the increase in cyclist injuries, up 8.2% in 2014, which outstrips the rise in cycle traffic which rose 3.8% in the same period.

Referring to statistics that show HGVs are “over-represented” in fatal incidents involving cyclists, the committee recommended the DfT assess the impact of TFL’s London’s Safer Lorry Scheme and lobby the EU to make it mandatory across Europe, if it is found to have reduced cyclist and pedestrian casualties in London.

The committee said London cyclists and pedestrians could also benefit from HGVs being restricted in central London during rush hour, and recommended the DfT “evaluate the effect of such policies” on cyclists and pedestrians and on road haulage operators to ensure a balanced strategy.

Further recommendations also urge the government to consider tougher penalties for HGV driving offences, a reduction in the 60mph HGV speed limit, the restriction of lorries in central London during rush hour and greater monitoring of foreign-registered trucks when in the UK.

A spokeswoman for the RHA said: “If the Safer Lorry Scheme can be shown to be a cost-effective way of  reducing accidents, death and injury, it will be attractive. At the moment there is no indication that is the case.”

The Resources Group brings training expertise to Freight in the City Summit

The Resources Group will be taking part in next month’s Freight in the City Spring Summit, talking to delegates about the importance of specialist training for commercial vehicle drivers.

Providing a seven-day-a-week national training service for operators, The Resources Group offers a selection of professional driving courses for fleet operators.

Some of its more popular courses include on-the-road Driver CPC training and licence acquisition training.

Emergency First Aid for Drivers training is also growing in popularity among fleet operators, according to group commercial manager Nicola Howes.

“We have received great feedback from drivers who have undertaken this course. With the increasing number of HGVs on the road, a driver can often be the first person at the scene of an accident.

“This course focuses on providing drivers with basic lifesaving first aid skills, to prevent medical situations from worsening, prior to the arrival of emergency services,” Howes said.

She added that the course is also Qualsafe and Driver CPC accredited. “Not only are drivers gaining a highly desirable life skill, but they will also achieve seven hours towards the next DCPC deadline,” said Howes.

The Resources Group has recently been selected by builders’ merchant group Travis Perkins to run Fors Safe Urban Driving courses for it.

Travis Perkins will also be taking part in Freight in the City and displaying its latest Mercedes-Benz Econic truck, one of four new Econics joining the business to boost safey in urban areas.

  • Freight in the City takes place on 3 March at Manchester Central. It is a free-to-attend one-day event focusing on driving sustainable freight movements across the Northern Powerhouse region. Book your place today!


ECO Stars expands as northen cities raise their profile

Growth in towns and cities in the North is prompting both public and private fleet operators to explore schemes such as ECO Stars Fleet Recognition in an effort to boost operational sustainability.

Jim Chappell (pictured), freight and fleet divisional manager at Transport & Travel Research, which heads up the ECO Stars scheme said: “We are seeing a direct correlation between ECO Stars’ expansion and the growth and the rise in profile of cities and wider urban areas in the North.

“As urban centres grow they need schemes such as ECO Stars, which deliver positive interventions to reduce environmental impact and give operators an opportunity to review their operations against industry best practice.”

Chappell will be taking part in a panel debate at next month’s Freight in the City Spring Summit in Manchester that will discuss the importance of collaboration between public and private sectors to drive cleaner, safer, more efficient freight movements across urban areas.

He told Freightinthecity that local authorities could take the lead in driving collaborative fleet efficiency by first analysing their own community fleets and those of their supply chain: “Efficiencies in these areas will always be advantageous to the local authority, the contracted operator, and the wider community.”

Commercial fleet operators would also greatly benefit from working closely with local authorities and establishing a positive relationship with the relevant teams at the council.

Chappell explained: “The greater the co-operation, the greater the holistic benefit. If there is a positive relationship, activities such as those with an infrastructure implication (for example temporary rerouting or installation of electric charging points) can be discussed from a starting point of a positive relationship.

“This also applies to contracts between local authorities and commercial operators where cleaner operations are preferred, as there could be procurement considerations,” he added.

Freight in the City takes place at Manchester Central on 3 March and is a free-to-attend one-day event designed to explore opportunities for sustainable freight as part of the government’s Northern Powerhouse investment strategy. Why not sign up today!

Freight in the City delegates can take free trial of GreenRoad’s driver behaviour app

Fleet operators heading to next month’s Freight in the City Spring Summit will be offered a free trial of GreenRoad Technologies’ real-time driver behaviour mobile app.

GreenRoad Mobile enables both drivers and fleet managers to assess driving behaviour and receive instant coaching to correct any concerns, as well as displaying vehicle tracking, maintenance and fuel usage optimisation data.

David Rodriguez, SVP marketing, GreenRoad Technologies, is confident that fleet operators at the summit, who take advantage of the free 60-day trial, will be delighted with the end results.

“GreenRoad Mobile is changing the way safety and fleet managers drive positive, sustainable change in their organisations,” he said. “It combines a flexible platform that allows customers to access core driver behaviour analytics with GreenRoad’s performance management experts who have extensive driver safety and fleet management experience.

Rodriguez added: “We are pleased to be able to provide this market-leading technology free of charge to attendees at next month’s Freight in the City Spring Summit. We hope that as many businesses as possible take full advantage of this rare opportunity and see for themselves the incredible benefits this mobile application can bring to a business and its workforce.”

The Freight in the City Spring Summit will explore how the freight and logistics industry can work with the public and private sectors to drive economic growth in the North of England.

It will feature a top line-up of key industry figures through a series of seminars, interactive workshops and panel debates.

GreenRoad’s UK director of sales Chris Horbowyj will be a panellist on a debate into the future of urban trucks and transport. The session will discuss how the manufacturers of trucks, trailers and technology are leading the way and meeting the challenges of delivering in the urban environment.

The panel will debate how policy-makers can work with OEMs, and vice-versa, to incentivise better development and encourage the adoption of cleaner, safer and more efficient technologies.

Freight in the City takes place at Manchester Central on 3 March. Register now for your free place to attend.

ECO Stars collaboration helps JG Pears save costs and reduce carbon footprint

Animal by-product renderer JG Pears has slashed both costs and its carbon footprint since joining the ECO Stars Fleet Recognition Scheme.

Following advice given on improving the efficiency of its fleet, the Nottingham business has seen insurance premiums drop by £80,000, mpg improve by around 10% and carbon impact lowered by 8%.

The business works from three depots in Nottingham and Yorkshire and operates a fleet of 35 HGVs and 200 trailers with an average annual mileage per vehicle of 285,000km.

Following an assessment carried out by ECO Stars upon first joining the scheme, JG Pears was initially awarded a four-star rating out of a maximum five stars.

Group logistics manager Andrew Bostock (pictured) was delighted: “I joined the company the previous year and we had made some significant changes in the way we worked and so I was pleased to get a very respectable rating. It highlightedJG-Pears-Andrew there was still much that could be done to get the most out of the assets we had.”

He added that it was good to receive external recognition of the work already achieved, together with a realistic view of further steps to take.

Following the assessment a ‘roadmap’ was produced for the business that listed key actions to be considered.

ECO Stars encouraged the company to examine the most efficient vehicle was being used for the job.

As a result, 20 new aerodynamic trailers were purchased, as well as a shift towards Euro-6 models on the tractor fleet.

During 2014, the JG Pears fleet of Euro-5 vehicles returned an average of 8.4mpg. The fleet now operates at an average of 9.7mpg, largely due to the introduction of 16 Euro-6 trucks in 2015. A further four Euro-5 trucks are also shortly due for renewal with Euro-6 models.

Better use of telematics to manage performance was also instigated, which included the launch of a driver league table to motivate employees. This in turn enabled the business to enhance its driver training strategy.

One year after joining ECO Stars, JG Pears was re-assessed and was awarded a five-star rating for the work it had achieved.

Binmen given emergency system to stop out-of-control trucks

Vision Techniques has designed an emergency braking system for HGVs in response to the Glasgow bin lorry tragedy in December 2014 that killed six people.

The system enables a crew member on a bin truck to bring a vehicle safely to a stop in the event the driver loses control by simply hitting a red button on the dashboard.

“We call it VT StopSafe,” said technical manager Nigel Armstrong, “effectively the system reduces the vehicle’s speed while simultaneously bringing it to a controlled stop using the braking system.

“The system is activated using a secure emergency button installed to the vehicle dashboard, allowing the crew to react to an emergency situation.”

It is available for any manufacturers’ trucks and is suitable for both new-build and retrofit options.

Blackburn-based Vision Techniques said it has been working on the idea since the fatal accident inquiry launched after the Glasgow incident  made the case for councils to fit emergency braking systems to their fleets.

The company has been working closely with Craven Council in Skipton to help it better understand local authorities’ operations and requirements.

Trials carried out by the council have shown the bin lorry able to come to a controlled stop at speeds of 45mph when the emergency button is pressed.

Craven Council workshop manager Steve Parkinson said: “Every council in the country was shocked by the events in Glasgow. If a driver loses control of the vehicle it’s reassuring to know that equipment like this can step in to prevent a potential disaster. ”

The council plans to fit the system to its fleet once available in May.

Vision Techniques said it will offer the system to every council in the country.



20,000 UK lorry drivers now trained for safer driving around town

Some 20,000 UK lorry drivers have now completed a Safe Urban Driving course, which teaches them how to share the road safely with vulnerable road users such as cyclists and pedestrians.

The course was designed and launched by TfL in 2011 and was the first accredited course in the UK to include on-road cycle training for HGV drivers to help them see the road from a different perspective.

Safer Urban Driving is incorporated into one of TfL’s Work Related Road Risk contractual requirements, which it said is an effective way for organisations to reduce the risk of their supply chain being involved in serious collisions on the roads.

The course also meets the training requirements for the Clocs and Fors inititatives and counts towards an HGV driver’s 35 hours of periodic CPC training that they are required to undertake every five years.

During the next 12 months, TfL said it plans to train another 4,000 drivers on the course.

Leon Daniels, MD Surface Transport at TfL, said: “Our Safe Urban Driving course promotes more consideration for others while out on the road.

“I’ve been on this course and know how eye-opening and important it is; that’s why we want all lorry drivers operating in London to take part in this type of training and express our thanks to those who already have.”




CCF adds Mercedes Econics to London fleet to boost cyclists’ safety

Building interiors manufacturer CCF has invested in two new Mercedes-Benz Econics to help protect vulnerable road users on urban delivery routes across London.

Operating from CCF’s East London and Borehamwood branches, the company said the low-entry Econics will give its drivers improved all-round visibility and enable eye contact with cyclists at the nearside front of the vehicle.

The two new trucks will be fitted with electronic proximity alerts, standard across all new CCF fleet vehicles, while one also features a jubilee Moffett truck-mounted forklift bought at the manufacturer’s 70th anniversary charity auction.

All CCF drivers operating within the capital have also completed a safe urban driving course.

CCF belongs to builders’ merchant chain Travis Perkins, which is a Fors gold member as well as a Clocs champion and sits on the advisory boards of both schemes.

Graham Bellman, fleet director for CCF and Travis Perkins, said: “Investing in two Econic trucks to complement the additional safety features of our new CCF fleet, alongside a further two for our Keyline and Travis Perkins merchant businesses, allows us to offer unrivalled standards of protection to vulnerable road users in the capital whilst offering a first class delivery service.”

Cemex focuses on Fors compliance across subcontractor workforce

Cemex has continued its drive to ensure its fleet of nearly 900 subcontractors becomes Fors-accredited.

The company said Fors bronze was last year made mandatory for its 70 primary subcontractor hauliers working in the aggregates and asphalt businesses, with 10 already having reached silver status and seven obtaining gold.

Cemex, which gained Fors gold status for its 300-strong own-account fleet in 2014, is now focusing on helping the remainder of its subcontractor fleet to achieve accreditation.

It rolled out a new quality management system during 2015, developed in conjunction with Fors, and has been providing support to its independent hauliers taking steps to achieve accreditation.

By the end of last year, 169 out of 550 subcontractors working in the Cemex Logistics division – which transports aggregates, asphalt, bulk cement and other building products – were Fors registered or accredited.

Of this total, 150 subcontractors were responsible for transporting more than 65% of aggregates and asphalt volumes. The aim for 2016 is for more than 80% of volume to be carried by Fors-accredited subcontractors.

A Cemex spokeswoman told that the majority of those subcontractors gaining accreditation were from outside of the capital, with 18 operating in greater London, demonstrating the increasing national reach of Fors.

In its Readymix concrete division, where the fleet comprises 327 independent haulier contractors, the entire greater London operation of 66 operators is now Fors accredited. Cemex plans to continue this sign-up rate across major cities outside of the capital during 2016.

David Hart, director of logistics, said: “Health and safety audits with all contractors are now aligned with Fors standards to ensure we are consistently achieving a high standard as a fundamental part of our operations.”

He added that 2016 will see a further push towards subcontractor sign-up to Fors. “We only want to work with hauliers that have health and safety as a fundamental part of their business, helping to improve overall road safety and reduce the wider impacts of fleet operations.”