Wet weather highlights need for tyre checks
04 July 2012
With the UK suffering its wettest second quarter since records began in 1910, the need for adequate tyre tread to stay safe on wet roads all year round is more important than ever, says TyreSafe.
“Spring felt more like autumn this year with its unusually high rainfall, yet what it does show is that tyre tread depth should be checked regularly, whatever time of year, to make sure they can cope properly with wet roads. And there is at least one silver lining to these continuous clouds and that’s the free advice from TyreSafe, which is urging drivers to inspect their tyres simply by using the 20p tread depth check. It’s easy to do and could pay dividends,” said Stuart Jackson, chairman, TyreSafe.
The test involves inserting a 20p piece into the main grooves of the tyre. If the outer band of the coin is visible, then the tyre tread may not have sufficient depth and should be inspected by a qualified specialist. Adequate tread depth is essential for good grip on wet roads as the tread pattern helps to remove water from the road surface. Drivers with insufficient tread depth face longer stopping distances, reduced grip and an increased risk of aquaplaning.
When checking the tread, TyreSafe advises that drivers should also give their tyres a visual inspection for any cuts, lumps or bulges, while also making sure the air pressure is correct. Tyre safety is about protecting the ones you love, as well as having respect for other road users. However, if that’s not enough to spur people into action and to regularly check their tyres all year round, then the heavy fines for driving with illegal tyres certainly is,” added Jackson.
Current UK law requires car drivers to have at least 1.6mm of tread across the central three-quarters of the tyre, around its entire circumference. Drivers who fail to comply with the regulations face a fine of up to £2,500 and three penalty points for each illegal tyre.
Drivers put cost first in salary sacrifice schemes
04 July 2012
Drivers put cost considerations ahead of all other factors in their reasons for deciding to acquire a car through a salary sacrifice car scheme and in making their car choice, according to new research.
A survey of over 1,000 drivers, who have recently acquired a new car using a Salary Sacrifice scheme, found that four of the top five most appealing key benefits of the scheme related to its low cost. This reflects the rising cost of motoring for drivers and the need for an alternative, more cost effective way to acquire a car, such as a salary sacrifice car scheme.
Drivers said the key reasons for opting to use salary sacrifice to acquire a new car were the provision of an all-inclusive fixed monthly cost for a car, followed by a cost effective way of acquiring a car and a hassle free way of getting a car.
Getting a more fuel efficient car and obtaining tax and National Insurance savings were also very important benefits for drivers, the research found. When it came to actually choosing a car through the scheme, the most important factor drivers considered was the monthly cost.
The second most important factor was that the car was fuel efficient, followed by its ability to match the respondents’ lifestyle needs in terms of the number of seats, space and size. Drivers were also concerned about the cost impact of CO2 emissions on their benefit-in-kind tax bills, rather than the environmental impact.
“It is clear that the rising cost of motoring is having a profound effect on the reasons why drivers elect to acquire a new car through a salary sacrifice scheme and on their actual choice of vehicle,” said a spokesperson. “They like the fact that a salary sacrifice car scheme gives them an all-inclusive way of acquiring a new car with a fixed monthly cost and that there are no unexpected costs or hidden surprises. Fuel efficiency and carbon emission levels are also important but more from a cost than an environmental viewpoint.”
To help fund their new acquisition, the survey found that 73% of drivers sold their old car, while a further 14% gave it to a family member or kept it as a second car (13%).
Of drivers surveyed, some 48% had initial concerns about entering into a salary sacrifice car scheme, whereas 52% had no concerns at all.
Sight check app to support drivers’ eye health
02 July 2012
A free sight check app has been launched by Specsavers Corporate Eyecare
Using the latest technology, the app has been developed to include a series of tests that help employees to take an active interest in their eye health. Should the app recommend a full eye examination at the end of the test, the user can book one directly via the internet.
The app also features a slimmed-down version of ‘Ask the Optician’, Specsavers existing eye health advice tool. Users can type in a question relating to eye health and then search an extensive database before having their answer delivered in text or video format.
Designed by David Thomson, Professor of Optometry and Visual Science at City University London, the app is available at both the Apple App Store and the Android App Store. Professor Thomson said: “It has been designed to raise awareness of eye health in a current and instantly accessible way. While it can’t replace a comprehensive eye examination, it does provide a reading test, a visual acuity test and a fan test for astigmatism. It then uses computer intelligence to read the results of these tests and then describe user’s vision, risk factors and what action they should take.”
Jim Lythgow, director of strategic alliances at Specsavers Corporate Eyecare said: “This offers extra support to employers who have fleet drivers. From our experience one in three drivers would fail an eye examination and part of the problem is that drivers don’t realise their eyesight has deteriorated. The sight check app gives a quick assessment that will direct them to a full eye examination, if needed.”
Jaguar cuts CO2 as XF Sportbrake arrives
02 July 2012
Jaguar has announced revisions to its XJ and XF engine line-up that cuts CO2 emissions and reduced benefit in kind tax liability.
The engine upgrades coincide with changes to the XJ for the 2013 model year, as well as prices and specifications for the new XF Sportbrake. CO2 emissions for the XF are reduced to 135g/km for the 2.2D, which continues in 163bhp form in the entry-level version while the 190bhp variant has been boosted to 200bhp. Noth engines have official fuel consumption of 55.4mpg on the combined cycle.
The 3.0-litre V6 diesel has undergone a 10g/km reduction and now has CO2 emissions of 159g/km, as well as lower fuel consumption. The lower ratings are the dame for both 240bhp and 275bhp twin-turbo variants. The 5.0 V8 petrol variant has been replaced by a new 3.0-litre supercharged engine producing 340bhp, although the supercharged 5.0-litre V8 continues in the XFR. The XF Sportbrake range will start at £31,940 on the road for the 2.2D SE Business (which includes standard satellite navigation and Bluetooth), with CO2 emissions from 135g/km.
Jaguar’s large saloon, the XJ also has CO2 emissions from 159g/km for the 275bhp 3.0D V6 with fuel consumption at 47.1mpg. The normally aspirated 5.0 V8 petrol variant has been replaced by a supercharged 3.0-litre V6. Other changes include a new premium audio system supplier and the addition of DAB as standard.
EST launches driver training programme
02 July 2012
The Energy Saving Trust (EST) has launched a national nine-month-long roadshow programme to encourage drivers to take up its Smarter Driving training.
It is estimated by EST that drivers who complete the course could save as much as 20p per litre on fuel. Around 9,000 employees across England – working for organisations which operate company fleets of more than 20 vehicles – will be trained by EST over the next nine months.
The Smarter Driving Programme trains employees in techniques to help them drive more efficiently and is subsidised by the Department for Transport. It takes 50 minutes per person and the training starts and finishes at the workplace so disruption to the working day is minimised.
Bob Saynor, Smarter Driving programme manager for the Energy Saving Trust, said: “We know that rising fuel bills can really affect a company’s balance sheet. It’s why some of the big players like Boots and Vauxhall have already put their staff through our courses to cut down costs and improve green credentials. Our national roadshow will help us reach other companies across the UK. Smarter driving is all about reducing fuel consumption. Our trainers work on techniques such as changing up at low revs and helping drivers anticipate the road further ahead. Learning a few simple techniques not only makes an economical difference to drivers but also makes them safer as they have better road sense. The feedback we have had from employees who have completed the courses has been very positive.”
Julie Fitzell, head of environmental standards, at Qdell & LHR Express Cars Ltd was one of the first to take the training. She said initially it was hard to get staff interested at the Middlesex-based courier and private hire business: “Their attitude was ‘I’ve been driving for 30 or 40 years and you can’t tell me any different’. My argument was that if I can tell you a way that’s going to save you fuel every week, and it’s only going to take 30 minutes of your time, why not try it? After persuading one driver to do the course, the feedback was good and from then on take-up has been impressive – now they’re fighting over places.”
The average rise in fuel economy for Qdell & LHR Express Cars Ltd was significant, shifting from 40.5mpg at the start of training to 48.9mpg by the end. Fitzell continued: “Several drivers have chosen to repeat the training, and the training is now open to all employees, not just drivers, as a staff benefit.”
The England-wide roadshow will kick off at Northumberland County Council in July. Smarter Driving courses can be organised through a new online scheduling system which allows businesses to book their own sessions and reminds them of their appointment. Up to eight smarter driving sessions can take place at one workplace in one day. EST provides the vehicles and insurance. Each lesson costs just £25 per driver.