Road Haulage Association

Haulage Industry News

Haulage rates…Unreasonable penalty charges and getting paid!

 

There has been a fair amount of coverage in the trade press recently relating to major haulage users who unilaterally extend payment terms, effectively using their transport suppliers as banks.

This is totally unreasonable and we urge members to resist this sort of action. As if that is not bad enough, there are also more and more cases of delivery and collection sites imposing charges of up to £1,000 because of the alleged failure of the carrier to be there on time; present a load in sound condition or some other issue such as the driver having a bad haircut.

Again, we urge members to resist having to make these payments unless there is a reasonable case for doing so and there is a similar arrangement when the third party causes delays to your vehicle.

For far too long we have simply accepted unreasonable impositions that add cost without any compensation in the form of increased haulage rates. But now we are getting more and more examples of a shortage of vehicles, with customers – increasingly acting through clearing houses – having to ring round to find someone with vehicles available. Do not accept rates that you are not happy with and do not accept unreasonable penalty charges unless there are clear and documented arrangements for payments when there are delays to your vehicles.

Returning to the issue of getting paid, there is a little light at the end of the tunnel, in the shape of moral support at least, from the Government, which recognises that many large customers do not treat their suppliers reasonably and are trying to encourage a prompt payment culture. There is a Bill in Parliament – the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Bill – which includes provisions that directly apply to large public sector contracts and will require larger companies to make a declaration about their payment performance. It has been the case for some time that Government contracts include a prompt payment arrangement but that approach rarely cascades down the supply chain beyond the prime contract holder. There is now some hope that we will see that change, with hauliers involved in work related to major public contracts getting paid promptly. The other provision – regarding companies reporting their payment performance does not guarantee quicker payment but it should help to develop a new payment culture. We certainly hope so. The fact is that a large proportion of your costs have to be paid out long before you receive payment from your customer – with fuel and wages being obvious – and delaying these payments is not an option.

Clearly the decisions to accept any given rate or payment period is a commercial one, and one that has to be left to individual operators, but bear in mind the fact that the cost of financing your business will increase if your customer takes longer to pay and that increased cost should be reflected in the haulage rates that you charge. Supply and demand is such that there are opportunities to stick to your guns on rates – don’t accept anything less than you believe to be the right rate for the job.

 

Geoff Dunning

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An impending driver shortage?

There seems to be little doubt that the haulage industry will be facing a shortage of drivers sooner or later.

Every member’s meeting that I attend hears reports of a shortage of sub-contractors and difficulties in finding good drivers and there is no prospect of things improving in the next twelve months.

As everyone knows, the deadline for completion of the thirty-five hours of periodic training that is required for drivers who held licences before the DCPC rules started is approaching quickly. While the precise number of drivers that needed to do these hours was never really established and the number of haulage – as opposed to passenger – drivers that have completed their training is equally unknown, the industry has to deal with the availability of drivers on an individual company basis.

As the September deadline passes, we will be heading into the Christmas rush, when demand for both subbies and agency drivers peaks. Do you expect to deal with demand? Have you asked regular subbies if they will be able to cope and have you asked your driver hire agencies what capacity they will have? If you answer “no” to either of those questions you may be in for quite a shock when you do, because all the signs suggest that things will only get worse. This inevitably raises the question of where new drivers will come from, and RHA is working on a number of initiatives that will deliver new drivers and we know of a number of other organisations with schemes designed to bring new people into the industry.

In the meantime, what can members do to keep the drivers that they already have? Well, for a start, you can convince any drivers that are refusing to cooperate with the Driver CPC that it is not going to go away and that they need to get their thirty five hours in before the 10th of September – making it clear that they cannot work without the Qualification Card that comes after thirty five hours are completed. Then there is the question of rates of pay. Keeping drivers might imply higher wages, but, when customers are seeking to extend payment terms, you are trying to expand in response to demand and drivers continue to expect weekly pay packets, higher wages simply add cost and, in turn, put even more pressure on cash flow.

Then there is what is quite often the elephant in the room – drivers’ health. Those older drivers who you are so keen to retain are those that could well have problems renewing a licence because of health issues. Diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, heart problems, sleep apnoea and eyesight can all result in a doctor being unable to pass a driver fit to drive and that will result in the loss of their licence. Many of these problems can be sorted out quickly, particularly if they are detected early, so encouraging drivers to look after their health and getting themselves checked out in good time can keep them in work. There is no one answer to the issue of the growing driver shortage, and the biggest mistake is to think you won’t be affected.

 

Geoff Dunning

RHA Annual Lunch – a great success!

Our Annual Lunch, held at the Park Lane Hotel on Piccadilly on Thursday, 16th May was a great success.

I have received several comments to the effect that it was the “best ever” and I have to say that I agree with them. Events such as this rely on a number of elements for them to work and firstly, this year we had an excellent venue, which provided the perfect setting and delivered high quality food and service. We also had an excellent line up of speakers, with the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Danny Alexander MP and the England Grand Slam winner and British Lions rugby star, Martin Bayfield, providing serious and entertaining speeches. This no doubt had a major influence on the next factor, which was a sell-out audience filling the Park Lane’s ballroom with over 320 guests, including a number of prominent invited guests, such Sir Peter Hendy from Transport for London, Peter Shaw and Mike Hawes representing our CV Show partners SOE/IRTE and SMMT respectively, Rob Flello, Chair of the All Party Freight Group and Theo de Pencier from FTA.

So the stage was set for a great day and every expectation was fulfilled, starting with an excellent address by Danny Alexander, who paid tribute to the RHA for its effectiveness in representing our members’ interests, saying: “…Geoff and his team made absolutely sure that, I was under no illusion about just how important fuel price and fuel price stability is to your industry.”  He also recognised the leading role that we had played in pressing for action to impose charges on foreign trucks and urged the RHA to continue to draw to the Government’s attention those parts of our motorway and road network that cause the worst problems because: “…where traffic slows down, our economy slows down.” Our second invited speaker was Martin Bayfield. At six feet ten inches tall, Martin creates an immediate impression wherever he goes, but it was his presentation that made the most impact on his fellow guests. His stories from both police service and playing for England and the Lions were simply hilarious and his whole performance was immensely entertaining. If ever you get an opportunity to hear him – take it.

Our National Chairman, Peter Barber took the opportunity to recognise the hard work of the staff, the commitment of our members and the support of his fellow members on the Board of Directors. He went on to say: “The RHA as a whole and we, as individual hauliers, need to be clear about our role in the economy and how we will contribute in the future and the RHA will be sending a clear message to that effect.”

Peter concluded by announcing my own retirement date, generously crediting me with getting the association into the strong position that it is today and presenting my wife Sandra with a fabulous bouquet of flowers – to loud applause and the occasional wolf whistle! I will be leaving at the end of August and will have more to say about my departure next month.

 

Geoff Dunning

Two major RHA events

 

I hope that a large number of members will see the benefits of attending the Commercial Vehicle Show at the NEC in Birmingham this year.

Taking place from 29 April to 1 May, this year’s event will showcase a very wide selection of products and services from the full range of suppliers, large and small, so you are certain to find something of value. The RHA has two interests in the show – as part-owners together with the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders and the Institute of Road Transport Engineers, and as exhibitors.

As far as the former is concerned, we are delighted to see there is an increase of about 10% in both the number of exhibitors and the space taken, so we will be filling Halls 3a, 4 and 5 with an excellent range of stands. Mercedes-Benz, Iveco, Renault Trucks and MAN are all exhibiting together with van manufacturers including Ford and Vauxhall, so vehicle makers are well represented, as are bodybuilders such as Montracon.

And then there are the smaller stands covering everything from spares to training, bringing the total number of exhibitors to about 450. Many members will find displays of ERF and Foden restored vehicles of interest as they add a different dimension to the show. It will also be a pleasure to welcome a number of guests, especially the Secretary of State for Transport Stephen Hammond MP and Chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Freight Transport, Rob Flello MP – both of whom have expressed an interest in touring the show.

As far as our own stand is concerned, we will be showcasing the three aspects of the RHA: the trade association, our campaigning activities and the full range of commercial services we have available. There are several new developments for members, including our new tachograph analysis service and RHA Smart Test, in which we have partnered with ScreenSafe, leading experts in the provision of drug, alcohol and other harmful substance testing.

Staff will be on hand to explain the full range of RHA activities, including our involvement with FairFuelUK, which has successfully campaigned on the issues of fuel duty – resulting in a 1p per litre reduction and the government agreeing to freeze duty for the life of this parliament. Other campaigning subjects include the difficult issue of the relationship between trucks and bicycles, the excellent working relationship that we have with our Traffic Commissioners and our discussions with DVSA (formerly VOSA) on their enforcement strategy.

This is also an opportunity to remind members that the RHA Annual Lunch will take place at the Park Lane Hotel in Piccadilly on Thursday 15 May. We are pleased and honoured to have as our principal guest the Right Honourable Danny Alexander MP, chief secretary to the Treasury, who will no doubt have much to say to his fellow guests about the government’s approach to the taxation of fuel, as well as other policy issues.

 

Geoff Dunning

 

DCPC: Are your drivers prepared?

 

As I write this, for the vast majority of the industry’s drivers, it is exactly six months to the deadline for completion of the first 35 hours of Driver CPC periodic training.

The official statistics suggest that a very large proportion of them will have completed the five days required, and our own members appear to be on target. What we don’t know is exactly how many are behind – in some cases so far behind – a sensible programme and how many will have to do a crash course if they intend to carry on working as a driver after September 10th this year?

Opinions vary, but there is little doubt that a substantial number will have done nothing and that they intend to give up driving when the time comes. Do any of your drivers fall into that category? Have you asked them? More importantly, are you aware of neighbouring companies that have done nothing, expect to lose quite a few drivers so will happily poach your drivers when their own pack the job in?

The timing could not be much worse. As we run in to October, the inevitable seasonal peak of demand for drivers will coincide with an exodus of untrained drivers, with agencies desperate for people to fill the demand that they face.

There is, of course, the possibility that some drivers, who have not completed the training, will decide to take a risk and seek to stay in work illegally. You may have seen that enforcement action has been taken against drivers who have gained licences since 2009, but no CPC.

They have been fined and suspended. There is no reason to believe that the DVSA (successor to VOSA) will behave any differently to drivers with acquired rights and we can expect roadside checks to cover Driver Qualification Cards and well as licences from the 10th September. It might also be possible that operators who have ensured that drivers are properly qualified take exception to other employers flouting the law and notify DVSA of their suspicions. They would, after all, simply be ensuring that they are competing on a level playing field.

The introduction of the Driver CPC has not been widely welcomed, but it has had a number of attractions. Not least it has been flexible, with employer and employee being able to organise training that benefits both. The training has also been available in a variety of formats, locations and timings that have ensured that suitable training is available when and where it is needed.

But there have been issues. Questions have been asked about the quality of some courses, though it has to be said that the customer gets what the customer pays for and if some people want to throw away money on courses that they know or expect to be sub-standard, then that is their decision. Carefully chosen training brings benefits for operators, drivers and the industry as a whole, so the fact that it is compulsory should not concern anyone unduly.

 

Geoff Dunning

 

Getting our points across


It is good to see that our man at the ministry, Stephen Hammond MP, does take our industry seriously; and wants to know about the needs of all road users, including hauliers.

A couple of weeks ago, the RHA’s Director of Policy, Jack Semple, acting chief executive, Nick Payne, and myself met with the Minister a few days after he had been driven round the streets of London by RHA member Peter Eason of ELB Partners.

This gave Mr Hammond the opportunity to see, first-hand, the problems that face LGV drivers every day. One issue that is of keen interest to the Minister is the issue of cyclists, and Peter Eason was not disappointed when they were undertaken by a lady cyclist; no hi-vis jacket, no helmet but with ear phones in place while texting on her mobile phone. How crazy are some road users?

The meeting we had with Mr Hammond was held at the Department for Transport in the late afternoon, which in the end was to be a bonus for us as we did over-stay our allotted time. Of course cycling and entry to construction sites was high on the agenda, and he did remark on his visit to ELB. We also told him that hauliers were finding it more and more difficult in keeping up with what the construction industry required, as different sites required hauliers to fit different equipment. We suggested there should be some common practices put in place by official bodies, rather than the ad hoc process we seem to be up against.

There were several questions asked about DVSA (formerly VOSA). In particular, rooting out seriously non-compliant operators. He thought that the OCRS scoring was doing this but we had to correct him noting that the industry was finding that there are too many inconsistencies, and that DVSA needs to make sure all their staff, sing off the same hymn sheet. We also pushed the case to permit private examiners to conduct DVSA annual vehicle testing – with DSVA staff monitoring and audit the system. This would create more flexible test timings, so enabling our industry to be more productive by getting vehicles back on the roads quicker. The other item aimed at DVSA was the Restricted “O” License. We pointed out that many of these operators do not abide by any of the obligations that we as Standard Operators do, despite using similar sized vehicles and the same roads. We pressed the point that they should also be more accountable; bearing in mind the rest of Europe does not have this inequality in operating standards.

On the matter of Drivers CPC we have again pressed the point of being able to have three and a half hour periodic training courses, stressing the point that drivers do lose their concentration after sitting in a class room for seven hours, and that the shorter sessions would be more interesting and absorbing for them.

One very interesting point made by the Minister was that in early March we will finally find out what is happening in regards to raising the speed limit for HGV’s on single carriageway A-roads to 50mph. He would not be drawn as to which way the decision would go, but hopefully in the next few days, we will, at least, see some reward for the RHA’s hard campaigning on the issue.

Having been given the chance to speak to the Minister, we don’t expect immediate results but if we – along with people like Peter Eason – take the opportunity to get our points of view over to the people that make the decisions, we stand more chance of getting results that enhance and help our Industry. Never give up a chance to speak with people in authority. If people in our Industry continue to chip away, raising the profile of issues that affect us, eventually breakthroughs will happen.

Peter Barber

Peter Shakespeare says: “We need helpful intervention not bad”

The chair of the Parliamentary Freight Transport Group has issued a press release, rubbishing a EU driven proposal to cut pollution by imposing a 60mph speed limit on the 32-mile stretch of the M1 between junctions 28 and 35a.

Rob Flello MP said the proposal was ‘deeply flawed and would cause far more damage than benefit’.

He said:  “I can’t see BMW drivers from Bonn having to observe a speed limit on the autobahn and yet Mr and Mrs Smith from Leicester will be forced to trundle up the M1 at 60mph.”

Flello spoke out after the Highways Agency (HA) launched a consultation on the scheme. The HA claims the existing 70mph limit is having ‘adverse effects on air quality’ and that cutting it would reduce emissions.

It also said the new limit would deliver ‘reduced congestion, increased capacity and improved journey time reliability’.

The agency said the restriction would apply from 7am to 7pm all week and was likely to remain for ‘several years’.

In a letter to the Government, Flello said: “The proposed speed restrictions will increase congestion on this critical route, increasing air pollution and harming both the regional and national economy.

“They also fail to take into account the development of new engine technology which is making both private and commercial vehicles cleaner and more efficient.”

The MP, who represents Stoke-on-Trent South, said ministers should instead meet commercial vehicle manufacturers and focus on cutting congestion.

His concerns, backed apparently by much of the transport industry, are shared by the RAC, which has warned that they could ‘pave the way for similar restrictions on other sections of motorway’.

Meanwhile in Scotland, legislators have finally seen the light and have approved a hard fought bid – principally driven by the RHA – to trial a 50mph speed limit for HGVs on the single carriageway sections of the A9 between Perth and Inverness. Evidence from a similar exercise in New Zealand, presented to the Scottish Government by the RHA, showed that the increase from 40mpg improved road safety and reduced emissions.

We all know that once the speed limit signs are turned on managed stretches of motorways, everything grinds to a halt as the snake like traffic flow adjusts its speed. Everyone then vies for position, changes lanes and generates more congestion. The extra and unnecessary exhaust fumes being pumped out become palpable. The answer to maximum engine efficiency and low emissions is optimal engine temperature, constant revolutions and driving in a low gear. This is only possible if traffic is free flowing and not all bunched up at the same speed. Rob Flello is spot on when he suggests our legislators go and speak to the truck manufacturers for a lesson on automotive engine technology. After all they have just spent £billions on achieving the highest emissions standards possible.

Not only is this 60mph proposal a knee jerk reaction, it is dangerous. Once the speed and environmental Nimbies get hold of this they will be calling for a blanket 60mpg limit on all motorways. And the frightening thing is significant numbers of the ill informed public and press will support it.

Personally I would like to see the speed limit on motorways raised to 80mph, along with a national increase to 50mph on single carriage A-roads for HGVs. If the Government wants to do something really effective to reduce emissions from traffic, it should re-introduce the scrappage scheme for old vehicles – this time to include HGVs – and as Rob Flello says, invest in the infrastructure so the traffic keeps moving.

RHA Benevolent Fund

Not many people realise that besides helping hauliers in membership, the Road Haulage Association also has a charity. The RHA Benevolent Fund was set up to help people who have fallen on hard times and need some financial assistance to make ends meet or to improve their quality of life. When applying for assistance, the main criteria of the fund is that the applicant has worked for a member or an ex-member of the RHA or that they are a dependant of someone who worked for a member or ex member. It is not just for drivers but any member of staff.

Over the last few years we have found that many people don’t even know that the fund exists. However we hope, through this article, to help raise the profile of the Benevolent Fund as more outside bodies apply for assistance than actual members helping employees or ex-employees.

Over many years we have helped people with medical related issues, carpets, school uniforms, electric powered vehicles, funeral expenses, council tax, utility bill arrears, home repairs and many other things.

We have helped a young lady who took part in last year’s London Paralympics. She attained a Bronze Medal for all her hard work. We have also helped a driver who in his mid-twenties was paralysed in a road accident. We helped adapt a van so he could work as a delivery driver.

In the last few weeks the fund has made its biggest award yet to help an ex haulier who has suffered a massive brain stem stroke; leaving him unable to use his legs, along with other major life changing conditions. We have funded widening doors, a hoist and other alterations at his home to make life easier for him and his family.

There are many more instances where this financial assistance has already made a difference and there will be many more to come. The fund depends almost entirely for its ability to show benevolence on generous financial support from members.  Every year many donate when they renew their membership and in a number of instances, a more substantial donation is gratefully received. Over the years this has amounted to many hundreds of thousands of pounds!

Other ways to help are from employees through a payroll giving scheme and from the “Centurions Scheme.”  Each “centurion” pays £100 membership a year and every month a draw takes place with a 1st Prize of £125, 2nd Prize of £75 and a 3rd Prize of £50. Every June the top prize is £500!

If anyone is interested and wants details of any of the above ways to donate to the RHA Benevolent Fund then please feel free to contact us at the office at Ingliston. You never know who will need help in the future.

If you know of someone who may benefit from some help, send an e mail to p.glancey@rha.uk.net or write for an application form to Road Haulage Association Benevolent Fund, Roadway House, The Rural Centre, Ingliston, Newbridge, EH28 8NZ.

We would be delighted to hear from you.

Standfirst

If you would naturally stop to help if you came across a crashed vehicle, then read on. 

Previewed at 2013 CV Show and launched last summer, the not for profit ‘Driver First Assist’ (DFA) scheme has been busy training, registering and equipping its vanguard.

There are over 35 million road users in the UK and the roads network is arguably the UK’s largest work place. And like in every place of work, accidents happen, but until now – unlike factories and offices – there has not been a formal mechanism for providing and training first aiders to give immediate assistance at the roadside, prior to the arrival of the emergency services.

The Driver First Assist scheme aims to train frequent road users to provide life saving first aid and manage the scene at a road traffic collision (RTC), prior to the arrival of the emergency services. It is primarily aimed at professional commercial vehicle drivers but it also includes anyone who earns their living behind the wheel, or publically spirited motorists who feel they would benefit from the knowledge the training imparts.

The scheme has the full backing of the police, fire and ambulance services and the Traffic Commissioners. The training consists of one seven-hour course and is delivered by serving emergency services trainers, all of whom perform front line duties when not in the classroom. For in-scope commercial vehicle drivers the course counts towards the Driver CPC periodic training requirement.

We have expressed reservations about the scheme in the past. Primarily we have questioned whether giving all comers a badge and some basic knowledge, is enough to then trust and expect them to react accordingly should they be the first on the scene at a serious RTC? We were invited to attend the course to see for ourselves, what the scheme is really all about.

The course venue was the South East Ambulance Service HQ in Banstead in Surrey and the content was delivered by PC Steve Rounds from the Central Motorways Police Group and Dave Evans of the Ambulance Service. PC Rounds was quick to clarify that attendance on the course should be voluntary and while it counted towards Driver CPC periodic training, individuals attending with a view to becoming a DFA should do this because they want to. He said: “What we are really about is giving publically spirited drivers, who would stop to help at the scene of an RTC anyway, enough knowledge to firstly keep themselves safe, to save life and to give timely and accurate information to the emergency services. Included in this is guidance on how to manage the scene until the emergency services arrive.”

Both trainers openly admitted that due to distance or congestion, it often takes 15 minutes, or more, for police, fire or ambulance to get to crash scenes. While the UK has one of the best road safety records in the world, an average of five people per day die on our roads and 55% of fatalities occur before the emergency services arrive. The principle cause of death is from cardiac arrest (the heart stops). Cardiac arrest occurs for various reasons but without intervention, death will occur within four minutes. Interestingly, PC Rounds said that drivers falling into unconsciousness at the wheel causes over 50% of RTCs. The police refer to it as death at the wheel.

To address these issues, and more, the DFA scheme aims to give participants the basic skills to save life. In terms of cardiac arrest this involves establishing that the casualty is non-breathing and unconscious and then delivering hands only cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).

But before any first aid training is delivered the course covers determining if it is safe to stop to assist in the first place, and communicating information to the emergency services via 999, 112 or motorway telephones. Conducting a dynamic risk assessment is the recommended procedure to cover this step. Once the DFA establishes they can help and it is safe to do so, the course covers how to approach the scene; how to position their, and other motorist’s vehicles on various road types to protect the accident scene; establishing the location of the RTC; assessing the scene and what the emergency services need to know and making the call. This is put across in a very common sense way, with the emphasis always on the personal safety of the DFA. PC Rounds repeatedly said that there was no compunction to assist if by doing so it would put the DFA in danger. He used the example of an RTC where a tanker was involved and was leaking harmful chemicals onto the road. He said: “You must ask yourself whether your presence at the scene is a positive benefit or an unacceptable risk. If you think keeping well back, calling the emergency services and preventing other members of the public from approaching the vehicle, is the best and safest course of action, that is what you should do.”

The course also covers collision scene dangers. In addition to the danger of further vehicle collisions, displaced vehicle occupants, moving traffic and hazardous cargo is also covered. DFAs must ask lorry drivers if they are carrying anything hazardous and include this information when calling the emergency services. The meanings of UK hazardous cargo warning panels and placards were explained so a DFA can relay this information, or act upon it themselves, for personal safety reasons or if an evacuation is required.

The two main causes of death in any situation are: you stop breathing or you bleed out. Shock can also be fatal. These are the three main subjects covered by the first aid element of the course. Instructor Dave Evans from the South East Ambulance Service again emphasised the importance of self-preservation, even when attempting to save another’s life. He said: “The first rule is to ensure you are not putting yourself in danger. You should approach vehicles with caution, ensure you have an escape route, avoid contamination from liquids and be aware of unstable loads. You should only enter a vehicle involved in an RTC to save life.”

The first aid element lasts for three hours and following theory and tuition we were expected to demonstrate assessing a casualty; administering hands only CPR; placing a casualty in the recovery position and bandaging a wound to stop bleeding.

The fact the first aid training is delivered by front line paramedics means they impart exactly the right level of information and in a way that makes the prospect of dealing with an unconscious non breathing casualty easier to contemplate.

In addition the first aid syllabus touched on spinal injuries. We were taught to establish if there was suspicion of a neck, back or spinal injury and were shown how to limit further injury to the casualty – both in and out of a vehicle – by immobilising and supporting the head, using our hands, until medical help arrives.

The course lasts for seven hours to comply with the requirements of the Driver CPC. Delegates are assessed on the practical exercises and there is a test at the end. These to elements are required by the emergency services to pass delegates out as DFAs, but have no bearing on the Driver CPC periodic training requirement of attendance only.

There is no compulsion to become a DFA following the course, but delegates that wish to do so receive an invitation. A fee of £25 covers the cost of providing the DFA Toolkit. The kit comprises a BS approved long sleeve hi-viz lightweight jacket with DFA logo, a first aid kit, an ID card, indemnity insurance, a key ring and window sticker. Membership with DFA lasts for a period of three years, following which, members need to update their skills by attending a refresher course. This ensures skills and knowledge remain consistent with emergency services operational best practice.

The pre-requisites for attending this course, in terms of personal attributes, for potential DFAs are a reasonable level of intelligence, a can do attitude and common sense. Prior experience of managing stressful situations would be beneficial, but is not essential. Until faced with a real situation no one can be sure how they will cope and we got the impression from the course that DFA and the emergency services want DFAs do what they feel comfortable and safe with and certainly don’t want people to be heroes.

We felt the course and its content was excellent and was pitched at just the right level. The course costs £95 and because DFA is not for profit, it is looking for corporate sponsors to help reduce costs and to fund more equipment and training. For more information go to: www.driverfirstassist.org

Peter Shakespeare

Positive end to the year

I am feeling very positive, as the end of another interesting and challenging year, rapidly approaches. And from what I hear, so are members.

The RHA is still tackling the ever-present challenges of keeping a lid of fuel duty, fairer regulation and enforcement and protecting compliant professional hauliers from the less diligent in our industry. And on a daily basis it continues to represent members’ interests as new issues come to the fore, both nationally and locally.

Thanks to a more buoyant economy members are now hopefully returning to a position, where they can start investing in their businesses again. If the results of recent press tests are born out in daily operation, Euro 6 is not the demon everyone feared it would be. Buy a new truck today and that is what will be delivered and it seems the manufacturers have developed a range of add-ons, which will help operators to be more profitable and compliant. Next year’s CV Show (29 April to 1 May) will help you make the best buying decision for your operation.

As I see it the biggest challenge we will face next year, and potentially over the next few years, are the Driver CPC five-year periodic training deadlines. From September 10th 2014, if your drivers are not in possession of a Driver Qualification card, and are stopped by the police or VOSA driving an LGV professionally, they are – with a few exceptions – breaking the law. And as the O Licence holder, you will be held responsible by the Traffic Commissioners for permitting them to do so.

After your O Licence, your drivers are your most prized assets and there is nowhere better to invest. After all what is the point of a nice contract and a fleet of shiny new Euro 6 trucks, if you don’t have anyone to drive them? Recent DSA figures show that there is still a long way to go, in terms of periodic training, to ensure the driver population is DCPC compliant by next September. If you need help RHA Training offers some excellent cost effective periodic training courses.  It is inevitable that the industry will lose some older drivers next year, so it vital that we retain and train the remainder.

And finally I would like to publically thank and congratulate the RHA’s director for Scotland and Northern Ireland, Phil Flanders, for a job well done.

Sadly Phil leaves the RHA at the end of this month after 15 year’s loyal service. Phil’s role differs from our other regional directors in that the director for Scotland & Northern Ireland has to contend with the differences in policy and legislation at the devolved governments of two countries and represents his members’ interests personally without the help of a large policy team. Phil has done sterling work on behalf of members and I was delighted that his efforts were recognised at the recent Scottish Transport News Rewards. In his spare time Phil is also passionate about the plight of Elephants in the Far East and has raised over £10,000 to help sanctuaries in Thailand. On behalf of staff and members, good luck and thank you.

Geoff Dunning