Blogs, topical advice, and thoughts from experienced logistics industry advisers

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

As autumn begins to draw in, it'll soon be time to say goodbye to the long, sunny days we have become accustomed to. These changing conditions – darker mornings and evenings, increased rainfall, and a lower sun – can bring challenges which we all need to be aware of to ensure we keep operating safely as the seasons change.


With the sun sitting lower in the sky during the autumn months, it is vital that your field of vision is as clear as possible. Make sure there is nothing on your dashboard; there should be no coffee cups, maps, delivery notes, or anything else that could get in the way of your view out of the cab.  Make sure the glass is clean, inside and out, before setting off, and allow extra time to your journey if the conditions require a blast from the demister. And remember to always 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.


After long periods of dry weather, the roads can become slippery at the first dew or rainfall, thanks to deposits of rubber on the roads. Take extra care when driving at this time of year, and allow sufficient braking distance to make sure you are completely safe.


Visibility, both of your vehicle and of other road users, is more challenging as autumn moves into winter.  Check all your lights are working correctly, and keep all of them clean – spray from the road and other dirt can limit their effectiveness.  Always use indicators when turning, to ensure that other vehicles are aware of your intentions.  Keep alert to other road users too – more 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.  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: 03/09/2019 09:54:06 by Freya Penny | with 0 comments

On 1 March 2017 the Government doubled the penalties for using a hand-held mobile phone while driving to six penalty points and a £200 fine. Vocational drivers may have their entitlements suspended by the Traffic Commissioner and newly-qualified drivers will automatically lose their licence under the points system.

Drivers who use mobile phones are now also liable to prosecution for the more serious offences of careless or dangerous driving if it can be proved that an offence was caused by failure to have proper control of the vehicle due to distraction. Penalties for careless and dangerous driving are substantially higher than for the specific mobile phone offence.

Using a mobile phone while driving has been an offence since 1 December 2003 and this applies to any type of phone use - calls, texts, emails, photos, internet access and streaming. Holding the phone in any way - for example, cradled between chin and shoulder or held between the knees - is also an offence. The Department for Transport's Think! campaign which was launched to coincide with the increased penalties suggested mobile phones should be stored in the glove box while driving to prevent distraction.

Using a mobile phone with a hands free kit can also be an offence if the driver is distracted or does not have proper control of the vehicle at the time. The penalty is the same - six points and a £200 fine - so employers should carefully consider whether their staff should be expected to take calls on the move. Employers, managers, colleagues and callers may be legally implicated when a driver uses a mobile phone as causing, permitting aiding or abetting the infringement are also an offence.


FTA has now published a new Use of Mobile Phones Whilst Driving briefing note that details the update to legislation and guidance for employers (Available to FTA Members only).

For access to a wide range of specialist van and truck Sat Navs, as well as safety and compliance products, visit the FTA Shop.

(The views and opinions expressed by the authors of these blogs are theirs alone, and do not necessarily reflect those of the Freight Transport Association)

Posted: 24/03/2017 12:06:51 by Global Administrator | with 0 comments

One of my favourite days each year is the Van Excellence Driver of the Year event and this year was no different.

We always seem to be blessed by the weather and it was a sunny Thursday in Barnsley (does that sound like a Smiths tune?) which welcomed 11 of the very best van drivers to compete in this year’s event sponsored by LeasePlan and fantastically supported by Mercedes Benz who gave us the run of its Wentworth Park facility.

We test the drivers over six elements – a fuel efficiency drive coupled with feedback on their driving style, a legislation test, risk awareness, fault identification with a fiendish pre-use vehicle check and a manoeuvring challenge and, as you’d expect from the best of the best, they were all exceptionally competent.

The overall winner was Matt Young from AAH Pharmaceuticals who took away a fabulous trophy and a £1,000 holiday voucher – not a bad day’s work!

Lisa Hanley (G4S) and Gary Day (Riverford Organic Farms) were second and third respectively.

So what did I take from the day?

My overwhelming impression was we have so many really competent and conscientious van drivers doing a challenging, pressured job in frequently difficult conditions. They, and the businesses they work for, make our way of life possible by delivering medicines, maintaining the infrastructure, bringing groceries and all the other activities we take for granted.

Perhaps it’s too much to expect Joe Public to see all this good stuff rather than focusing on the very small minority of drivers and operators who sometime give our industry a bad name. All we can do is keep spreading the word!

Congratulations also go to Matthew Pickering from Samworth Brothers Supply Chain, winner of the FTA Driver of the Year – 44 tonne award and David West of Total Foodservice Solutions, winner of the FTA Driver of the Year – 18 tonne award. Deserving winners both!
(The views and opinions expressed by the authors of these blogs are theirs alone, and do not necessarily reflect those of the Freight Transport Association)

Posted: 09/09/2016 14:58:10 by Global Administrator | with 0 comments

1202 delegates attended Transport Manager in 2015, 86% surveyed would recommend to a friend or colleague with a 90% satisfaction rate from those who attended on the day.  We have a great formula to know what works for FTA’s Transport Manager Conferences and 2016 would be no exception.

…and then Brexit landed.

So making this year’s Transport Manager events relevant, varied and informed took a bit of outside thinking. I started this role in June having worked in the industry for 8 years and wanted to deliver a Transport Manager that focussed on the prominent issues of the moment.

But with the ‘B’ word the only thing on everyone’s lips I can’t say that planning this year’s programme hasn’t been a challenge. 

Then we listened to what you were asking us – what issues are top of your agenda, what stories regularly feature throughout our industry and what our customer service and member relations teams are resolving on a daily basis. And the same themes came through every time:

  • You want to be compliant through your processes and understand any changes on the horizon.
  • You want to be excellent in your daily operation, from the moment your fleet sets off to the standard of customer service you expect to the technology you use to track driver progress.
  • You want to be connected with likeminded people in the logistics industry, if someone else is solving the issue you have on a daily basis then you want to know about it. 
  • You have a responsibility – to protect your customers, your staff and your industry in any obstacles that might stand in the way

When we defined those four themes the rest fell in to place. This year’s programme takes you from a view with your local Traffic Commissioner to how you can influence key issues at board level to fuelling change solutions to enhance performance and vehicle technology to preparing for the year ahead – to name but a few.
As always places are in high demand so whether you’re a one man band or looking to send thirty delegates – we’d love to see you there.

And with so much going on throughout September to December this blog is my own way of keeping you up to date. Sharing the inside track on how we deliver Transport Manager, the thought process behind the expert speakers to our all-important sponsors to the year ahead action plan that you leave with. But perhaps most importantly the success stories as they happen.

Bring on the next four months…

For more information on this year's conference visit
(The views and opinions expressed by the authors of these blogs are theirs alone, and do not necessarily reflect those of the Freight Transport Association)

Posted: 31/08/2016 14:05:26 by Global Administrator | with 0 comments

This week is National Road Safety Week and there’s no doubt we all need to play our part in promoting safety on the roads. The wearing of high visibility clothing is vital for those working in the transport industry or on the roads, as well as in transport yards, on construction sites and in warehouses and factories, to ensure they can be seen and remain safe.

Fhoss high visibility clothing products, which are not just reflective but also self-illuminating, have an important role to play in improving visibility and safety in working environments. The patented prismatic tape deployed behind traditional reflective tape delivers maximum visibility under all conditions and in all weather, with unrivalled performance in both daylight and dark conditions. Our high quality products comply with top industry standards, with a dedicated focus to cater to the evolving needs of any organisation with workers operating at night.

Fhoss Technology’s high visibility clothing has earned Frost & Sullivan’s 2015 New Product Innovation Award. A selection of our products are available from FTA's shop.

Posted: 24/11/2015 12:10:05 by Global Administrator | with 0 comments