Blog > March 2019

By Mark Cartwright, FTA’s Head of Vans and Light Commercial Vehicles  

After a long and arduous winter, the first signs of spring are appearing – lighter evenings, warmer temperatures and blooming flowers. But the changing season can bring challenges which we all need to be aware of to ensure we keep operating safely as spring approaches.  

With the sun sitting lower in the sky during the spring months, it is vital that your field of vision is as clear as possible. Around 3,900 people are injured in accidents caused by the blinding effects of the sun each year, according to data from the Department for Transport. Make sure your dashboard is totally clear – no coffee cups, maps, delivery notes or anything else should be on there to get in the way of your view out of the cab.  Make sure the glass is clean, inside and out, before setting off, and keep a pair of sunglasses in the cab, as the low angle of the sun can be difficult to deal with at this time of year.  

Always use indicators when turning, to ensure that other vehicles are aware of your intentions.  Keep alert to other road users too – vulnerable road users like cyclists and motorcyclists can be more difficult to spot when the light is failing, so take extra time to check before pulling out or across traffic.  And be aware that reflective road surfaces, combined with damp or wet driving conditions, can make it very difficult to see things clearly, particularly at multi-point junctions or away from main roads with good lighting.  Check and check again before manoeuvring to ensure that all road users can keep moving as safely as possible.  

Posted: 15/03/2019 09:00:00 by Els Matthews | with 0 comments

By Mark Cartwright, FTA’s Head of Vans and Light Commercial Vehicles  

When you picture an athlete, what comes to mind? Perhaps you conjure up images of a runner or a rugby player, but athletes come in all forms and it is easy to overlook the physical challenges more everyday jobs can bring. For example, informal research by FTA found parcel delivery operators walk nearly 40 miles and carry over 1.5 tons of parcels on average per week!  

To recognise the physical and mental demands that often come from driving professionally, the theme of FTA’s 2019 Van Excellence Operational Briefings is the industrial athlete. The three briefings, held in Edinburgh, Derby and London from 26 March to 2 April, will equip operators with the tools and techniques they need to help strengthen their drivers’ physical and mental health. 

Caring for drivers is one of the best ways for employers to improve the safety record of their businesses; operators of all fleet sizes will be able to pick up hints and tips on changing the health of their workforce at the sessions.  

The briefings will cover the following topics: 

Proper diet and hydration 

A recent survey found that more than 75% of drivers deliberately restrict fluid intake during the day, to reduce the need for stops in a busy working day. This, of course, can easily affect cognitive skills and risk perception; even mild dehydration can have the same impact on driver errors as drink driving, according to a study by Leasing Options. The British Dietetic Association will speak on the importance of proper diet and hydration. 

Fatigue prevention 

Driving while drowsy is suspected to be a primary cause in more than 20% of road fatalities, according to the Transport Accident Commission. The Third Pillar of Health will look at the impact of fatigue on the working day and share sleep management strategies.  

Positive attitude 

Stress and setbacks can wreak havoc on our mental health; successful motor racing driver and mental attitude coach, Andy Neale, will share techniques on how to become resilient and develop “bouncebackability”.  

Supportive workplace 

Organisations must embed good wellbeing practices into their day to day operations; Transport Research Laboratory will provide suggestions of supportive mental wellbeing strategies for workplaces to adopt.  

It all comes down to safety 

The police recognise the importance of effectively managing wellbeing and health issues in the workplace; representatives from the police will explain how this leads to safer driving and more comprehensive risk management. 

Ex-international rugby player and fleet manager, John Dalziel, will draw on his wide-ranging experience to explain the parallels in preparation, mindset and performance between professional drivers and top-level athletes. And finally, Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) will discuss the charity’s work to raise awareness around male suicide and how Van Excellence is supporting it through its CALMVan initiative. 

The Operational Briefings are sponsored by Van Excellence Platinum Partner, Mercedes-Benz Vans, and Gold Partners Bott, Brigade Electronics, Hertz, Quartix and Lex Autolease.   

Places at FTA's Van Excellence Operational Briefings can be booked for £75 + VAT per person. To book please visit or call 03717 11 22 22  


Posted: 01/03/2019 09:00:24 by Els Matthews | with 0 comments