Highways England gets smart at CV Show 2018 with new Driver CPC course and safety app

M3 Smart motorway


Highways England (HE) used the CV Show to engage with commercial vehicle drivers and launch a number of new safety initiatives.

The first is a new Driver CPC training course all about using smart motorways safely and efficiently.

This free, eight-hour course, developed alongside the FTA, is said to provide practical training about the past, present and future of smart motorways; it will include the different signals on the network, driver behaviour and the role of traffic officers.

Senior partnership manager at Highways England, Wayne Carey, said: “Hauliers are among the most frequent users of smart motorways so we want to ensure we are providing as much support as we can to ensure those journeys are as safe as possible.”

Dairy firm Muller has been one of the first fleet operators to try the new course, which has been provided through training firm Pertemps. Carey confirmed to CM that Muller had so far put 350 drivers through the new course, with 94% rating it excellent.

Jen Cowie, logistic support and development manager at Müller, said: “It’s essential that our drivers are fully equipped to deal with their surroundings. We are delighted to be working with Highways England on this training, from concept to delivery, and we continue to work together closely, which not only benefits the business, but the overall road network.”

Speaking at the CV Show, Malcom Bingham, FTA head of road network management policy,  said association members believe smart motorways are the way to go due to the greater reliability they offer, which is “crucial to our industry”.

However, he said there are certain aspects operators are unsure about, such as why slower speed limits have been set, for example. This has led to a “little lack of faith” in the system from some operators, he added.
He believes the new training will help inform and guide operators as to why such decisions are made.

“This is the right way forward - providing drivers with true guidance on how to use the network and not adding confusion about which parts of the road they can use and when. That has been borne out by driver feedback on the pilot courses we have run,” said Bingham.

“It also demonstrates the need to respect the Red X signs set up when there is a problem on the network and provides assurance that these lanes are vital tool in keeping drivers safe in emergency situations.”

Any company which wishes to enrol their drivers on the training should email:  SPTC_Driver_Education_Course@highwaysengland.co.uk

New reality

Highways England also launched a new virtual reality safety app at the show, which helps train drivers in HGV blind spots.

It can be accessed on a smart phone attached to a simple pair of cardboard goggles that drivers can use before they get behind the wheel.

It includes five road safety scenarios for both left and right-hand-drive vehicles and has been developed to stress the importance of adjusting mirrors to cater for driving in a different way when in the UK. 

Highways England is also working on a number of other safety initiatives with the commercial vehicle sector.

These include partnering with police using HGV cabs to target dangerously driven vehicles; installation of tyre/vehicle measurement technology at key locations; working with HSE and police to improve load security and prevent diesel spillages; development of truck stop apps in Polish and Romanian.

Image: Press Association


'Out of depth' TSB Transport loses O-licence over AdBlue emulator


West Midlands haulier TSB Transport has had its O-licence revoked after one of its vehicles was found to be fitted with an AdBlue emulator device.

TSB, based at Tividale between Oldbury and Dudley, is just the latest in an epidemic of hauliers this year using cheating devices to evade using AdBlue in their trucks. 

A public inquiry (PI) held in Birmingham on 19 April heard that a TSB truck was stopped last November and found with the emulator fitted.

A subsequent investigation by DVSA examiner Paul Matthews found that the driver of the vehicle, Buta Singh Bassi, had paid £650 to have the emulator fitted.

He had been told that it was all right to do this as long as the truck did not go into London. Bassi’s wife, Jaswinder Kaur Bassi, was the sole named director although the PI heard that it was her husband who seemed to be in charge of the firm.

In addition to the use of the emulator the DVSA investigation found that there were gaps in the safety inspection records for both truck and trailer, with six weekly intervals not always respected; the vehicle was not being given any sort of metered brake test; driver defect reporting was intermittent; that both truck and trailer had incurred two prohibitions from three encounters; and that the MOT pass rate over five years was only 50%, against a national average of 72%.

Both Mr and Mrs Bassi were among those attending the PI, although it became apparent that she did not even know what AdBlue was and was a director in name only.

Mr Bassi confirmed that he had been “told by a friend” that it was OK to fit an emulator if the vehicle did not enter London, but he declined to identify this friend.

The PI, presided over by TC Nicholas Denton, also heard that the financial standing of the company was not sufficient to support a standard licence, with the average bank balance over three months amounting to just under £1,600, well short of the £12,350 necessary for the licence for two vehicles and two trailers.

Denton said in his written decision that a reputable operator would not fit a cheat device and therefore TSB Transport had shown it was not of good repute.

The company had also failed in its promises when it applied for a licence to give regular safety inspections, ensure drivers record defects in writing and to ensure that drivers’ hours and tachographs are observed.

Denton said: “It is clear to me that Mr and Mrs Bassi are out of their depth. The company has insufficient working capital; they have failed to appreciate the seriousness of their use of an AdBlue emulator; they have not responded in any concrete way to VE Matthews’ report; and they have failed to appreciate the seriousness of a public inquiry – Mrs Bassi did not read the call-up letter and accompanying brief while Mr Bassi did read them but failed to bring many of the records requested.”

As well as revoking the licence the TC disqualified both Mr and Mrs Bassi from holding a licence for two years.

By David Harris