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.
MINI ClubVan set for 2012 launch
28 June 2012
BMW-owned MINI has announced that the British-built five-door Clubvan light commercial will be available in the UK from this Autumn and there will be a choice of three models.
DVLA warns drivers of scam email
27 June 2012
The Driver & Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) has issued a warning about a scam email threatening motorists with the loss of their driving licence if they do not complete a form revealing their personal details. The information requested would enable fraudsters to create false identities, leaving a string of problems for victims of the identity theft as their details are likely to be used in criminal activity.
Fuel duty increase postponed by Chancellor
27 June 2012
A 3p per litre increase in fuel duty due to be implemented in August, that would have had a major impact on fleet running costs, has been delayed until 2013.
Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne announced to the House of Commons that the planned rise in dutre would be postponed until next January, freezing fuel duty for the rest of the year.
The move follows calls by the oppositiong to delay the increase, as well as campaigning and lobbying from road users' groups. Osborne told MPs: "We are on the side of working families and businesses and this will fuel our recovery at this very difficult economic time for the world."
In the 2011 Autumn Statement, the Chancellor cancelled a scheduled 3p increase in fuel duty due in January but said another planned rise this August would proceed - although it would be cut from 5p to 3p.
Fleets warned over data protection laws
27 June 2012
Fleet operators are being warned that they may fall foul of data protection laws if company cars enter the remarketing arena before hard drives are cleared of any personal data.
The Vehicle Remarketing Association (VRA) has issued a best practice guide to its members to help them address the growing issue of vehicles coming to auction with a driver’s personal details still intact on a car’s internal hard drives.
The technological evolution of satellite navigation, phone kits and entertainment systems means that personal driver information is being stored on the car’s hard drives, including phone directories and personal addresses. And with manufacturers developing greater functionality for in-car infotainment systems, even more data will be stored on car hard drives in the future, which may pose an even greater risk to both the employee and the employer.
Ultimately it is the driver’s responsibility to erase this date from the car before it goes back to the rental company, leasing company or franchised dealer, but that doesn’t always happen, says the VRA. “We have yet to see major instances of any personal data being misused if it is inadvertently left on a car’s sat-nav or in-car system, but this won’t be the case for ever,” said VRA chairman John Davies. We have seen an instance where a car buyer traced the previous company car driver to his home address to ask more details about the used car he had just purchased at auction. If a driver’s phone has personal details of, for example, a politician or public figure and the sat-nav includes address details, this could be a real security concern.”
The VRA has 60 members who work in and around the remarketing industry, collectively handling and selling close to two million used vehicles every year in the UK wholesale market. This represents around 60% of all vehicles ultimately purchased by a private motorist from a motor retailer. To protect members from passing on a driver’s personal data when they sell a car, the VRA is recommending a series of measures.
It suggests ensuring that wording is included in customer contracts and master hire agreements informing their customer’s drivers of their obligations. Signed confirmation must also be received by the vehicle owner as part of the vehicle de-hire process that all data has been removed from the vehicle.
In addition, it recommends actioning ‘Delete All’ or ‘Factory Reset’ or similar as part of the remarketing process before a car is sold and is encouraging individual companies to conduct a privacy impact assessment. The Data Protection Act controls how an individual’s personal information is used and its rules require everyone who collects data to follow strict guidelines to keep that information safe.
Bauer fleet manager Debbie Floyde said: “I hadn’t recognised this as an issue until now and I suggest that’s probably the case for the vast majority of fleet managers. Not all of our cars have the capacity to store data so we’re now in the process of assessing what vehicles might be affected, before deciding what advice to offer our drivers. Nevertheless, I can see why it could be an issue and as manufacturers develop further functionality on infotainment systems, with the ability to store even more personal data, it’s a problem that’s sure to persist.”
The VRA told Fleet News that when it discussed the issue with members earlier this year, some companies had already adopted their own policies and others had talked to customers about the issue.