Meet the team – Pamela Evans

Name: Pamela Evans

Job Title: Marketing and design.

Explain your role in 10 words: Managing the design, promotion and delivery of all marketing materials.

What’s the best aspect of your job? Working with aspiring content and passionate professionals.

What’s the worst aspect of your job? Other people’s opinions! Additionally, being sat down at a computer screen a lot.

How long have you worked at Fleet Service GB? Since September 2018.

What was your first paid job? In a greasy spoon café – £10 a day every Saturday.

What’s your favourite car? A 1989 Pajero – for nostalgic reasons.

What one thing would you like to achieve before you retire? Early retirement! I hope I achieve a healthy mix of work and travel.

Outside of Fleet Service GB, what would your dream job be? As an avid watcher of home renovation and house building programmes, I ‘think’ I would like to work in that industry – even as a tradesperson perhaps or site manager. But for me it isn’t about a dream job, it is more about a sense of satisfaction and lifestyle as a whole. As a creative person, the job would need a visual element.

Who in the world would you most like to meet? My parents when they were young.

What is your favourite way to spend a day outside of work? Something outdoors. Ideally on the mountain bike, riding trails somewhere. Soaking up the fresh air and nature’s views.

If you won the lottery how would you spend the cash? Buying properties around the world in the locations I have loved visiting and spending time in. Then paying off the mortgages of those nearest and dearest to me.

Not a lot of people know that… I compete in the sport of water ski racing, in the British and European series.

Private parking fines surge to record high as new law brings greater transparency to the ‘scourge of fleets’

The number of penalty tickets issued to drivers parking on private land – the scourge of both fleet operators and company car and van drivers – has leapt by more than one million in just 12 months to a new high, the latest official figures suggests.

RAC Foundation’s analysis of Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) data shows that in the last financial year (2018/19) 6.8 million sets of vehicle keeper records were released to private car parking management companies. The figure is almost 20% higher than in 2017/18 (5.65 million) and 10 times the volume a decade ago (2008/9: 687,000).

Indeed, Fleet Service Great Britain has recorded a significant year-on-year increase in the number of penalty tickets handled on behalf of customers in relation to their drivers parking on private land. While some of that increase is undoubtedly due to a rise in the number of customers and therefore fines managed on their behalf, the company still handled more than 360 private land parking tickets last year and in the first four months of this year the figure is 160.

The huge number of penalty tickets issued against drivers in relation to parking ‘misdemeanours’ on private land has been a major fleet issue for many years and fleet decision-makers’ organisation ACFO has called for a change in practices within the unregulated sector to stem the flood of penalty tickets.

Change is underway as earlier this year MP Sir Greg Knight’s private members’ bill Parking (Code of Practice) became law – the Parking (Code of Practice) Act. The new legislation lays the framework for the establishment of: a single, Government-sanctioned, industry-wide Code of Practice; a single independent appeals service; and an independent ombudsman to oversee the behaviour of the parking industry.

Presently all private parking firms wanting to access the vehicle-keeper data held by the DVLA need to be members of an Accredited Trade Association (ATA) and abide by that ATA’s Code of Practice. There are currently two ATAs: the British Parking Association and the International Parking Community. Additionally, both ATAs have established appeals bodies to which drivers can take their cases to assess the validity of tickets if initial appeals to member firms themselves fail.

In introducing the new law to protect drivers, the Government called against the rogue private parking industry the ‘Wild West’. It says the Code of Practice covering England, Wales, and Scotland, will ensure parking is consistent, transparent and easier to understand. If private parking firms break it then they could be barred from asking for motorists’ information from the DVLA to enforce tickets. Meanwhile, it is claimed that the new independent appeals service will give drivers greater support to challenge unjustified parking tickets.

Steve Gooding, director of the RAC Foundation, said: “These staggeringly high numbers stand as a vindication of the urgent need for the measures in Sir Greg Knight’s Act to be put in place – a single, tighter Code of Practice, a single, consistent appeals body, and strict audit of parking companies’ compliance.

“Businesses who employ private companies to manage their car parks should be taking a close look at how they are operating, the implications for the drivers who will often be their own customers and, ultimately, what that means for their own reputation.

“We have never advocated a parking free-for-all, but for a system that is clear, transparent and fair for drivers and landowners alike.”

In the last 13 years more than 33 million vehicle keeper records have been obtained by parking firms from the DVLA, enabling penalty tickets to be issued. The DVLA charges private firms £2.50 per record, but says the charge enable it to recover costs and it does not make any money from the process.

The resulting charges levied by parking management firms for contraventions such as overstaying can be as much as £100 suggesting that, in principle, parking firms could be demanding up to £680 million from drivers on an annual basis, according to the RAC Foundation.

The data reveals the industry is obtaining records on a scale that would allow it to issue a penalty notice every five seconds; the equivalent of 13 per minute, 777 per hour and 18,653 per day. The top five private parking management companies in terms of keeper records obtained are: ParkingEye Ltd, Euro Car Parks, Ranger Services Ltd for Highview Parking Ltd, Smart Parking Ltd and Civil Enforcement Ltd, said RAC Foundation.

Clamping on private land was banned (in all but exceptional circumstances) in 2012 by the Protection of Freedoms Act. However, the Act also allowed for private parking companies to pursue the registered keepers of vehicles rather than having to prove who the driver was at the time of the ‘offence’.

The new Code of Practice will be drafted later this year with industry stakeholders, and is expected to provide the clarity of a single set of rules for private parking, with clearer processes of appeals.

‘Big fines’ on the cards for engine idling fleets as Government looks to crackdown on air pollution

A crackdown on engine idling – with commercial vehicles and company cars particularly in the firing line with possible ‘big fines’ – is on the cards.

The Government is reportedly considering proposals to reduce engine idling as part of its strategy to improve air quality with, it is suggested, local authorities likely to be given additional powers.

What’s more reducing engine idling is claimed to be one of the quickest ways for fleets to cut their fuel bills. Telematics provide fleet operators with a useful tool to measure and monitor driver behaviour including reducing incidents of engine idling. One provider claimed fleets had reported fuel savings of 10-18% based on cutting idle times alone, while clients had suggested it had discovered that drivers were clocking up 40-70 minutes engine idling time each day.

Presently local authorities have the power to issue £20 fixed penalty notices – £80 in parts of London – for emission offences and stationary idling under The Road Traffic (Vehicle Emissions) (Fixed Penalty) (England) Regulations 2002, but that power is rarely used. What’s more, a fine is imposed only if a driver refuses to switch off their vehicle’s engine off when asked to do so by an authorised person.

Meanwhile, the Highway Code (rule 123) says “you must not leave a parked vehicle unattended with the engine running or leave a vehicle engine running unnecessarily while that vehicle is stationary on a public road”.

Highlighting the scourge of engine idling, Nickie Aiken, the leader of Westminster City Council, was quoted on The Guardian’s website as saying that engine idling needlessly added to air pollution and drivers’ habits needed to change.

The Council has urged the Government to allow for the punishment of companies whose drivers are repeatedly caught idling with fines of more than £1,000, saying delivery drivers and commercial vehicles were the worst offenders.

Ms Aiken added that nothing less than a four-figure sum would serve as a “sufficient deterrent” for large companies whose drivers continued “widespread and persistent idling even after being asked”.

The Department for Transport is expected to issue new guidance on engine idling to local authorities later this year.

The RAC says: “[Engine] idling increases the amount of exhaust fumes in the air. These fumes contain a number of harmful gasses including carbon dioxide, which is bad for the environment and contributes towards climate change, as well as a range of other harmful gasses including nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide and hydrocarbons which are linked to asthma and other lung diseases. Diesel vehicles are thought to be one of the biggest contributors to the problem.”

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has also made recommendations about improving road-traffic-related air pollution. They include the possibility of local authorities introducing ‘No Idling Zones’ where authorised individuals such as traffic enforcement officers monitor vehicles.

Public Health England estimates long-term exposure to particulate air pollution has ‘an effect equivalent to’ around 25,000 deaths a year in England. That makes air pollution the largest environmental risk linked to deaths every year. Road traffic is estimated to contribute more than 64% of air pollution recorded in towns and cities.

RAC’s advice to stop engine idling

  • Try to consider how long you are going to be stationary in traffic. The RAC recommends that motorists turn off their engines if they think they are not going to move for around two minutes.
  • Many modern vehicles have ‘stop-start’ systems fitted that automatically switch off the engine when the vehicle is stationary and restart it as soon as the accelerator is pressed. Manufacturers allow this feature to be manually switched off, however we urge motorists not to do this. There is no risk to your vehicle in allowing this feature to be left on.
  • For vehicles without ‘stop-start’ it’s fine to turn off your engine, but you should try to avoid doing this repeatedly in a short space of time. In addition, older vehicles (around eight years old) and vehicles with older batteries (around five years old) may struggle if they are started too often in a short space of time.

Zero-emission van market set for boost from driving licence concession

The zero-emission van market is expected to be boosted by the Government’s long-awaited publication of guidance that allows employees with a category B driving licence – enabling a person to drive cars and vans up to 3.5 tonnes – to drive alternatively fuelled vehicles up to 4.25 tonnes, provided they have undertaken a further five hours of training.

The regulatory change comes as part of the Government’s commitment to encourage the transition to ultra-low emission vehicles, as set out in its ‘Road to Zero Strategy’.

The Government announced the payload concession last year and published legislation putting those vehicles outside of the Operator Licence framework. It has now issued guidance outlining how fleet operators can take advantage of the initiative.

It has been suggested that businesses have held-off from adding alternatively-fuelled vans above 3.5 tonnes to their fleets pending publication of the guidance.

The Freight Transport Association (FTA) said publication of the guidance would “fast-track” adoption of zero-emission vans by making them a more viable option for fleet operators, providing clear benefits to air quality and the wider environment.

The guidance says that the five hours of training on driving alternatively fuelled vehicles must be provided by members of the only two Government recognised light goods vehicle (LGV) training registers – the National Register of LGV instructors or the National Vocational Driving Instructors Register.

The training may be a mix of practical and theory, and will include vehicle handling techniques when driving a loaded alternative fuelled vehicle, refuelling alternative fuel types and the safe loading of alternative fuelled vehicles. On completion of the training a driver will be issued with a certificate.

The document says: “Guidance should be considered by any employer with employees who drive vehicles such as delivery vans, as well as self-employed people and those using their own vehicle for a work-related journey. It will be particularly valuable to those who operate large goods vehicles and those who are responsible for fleet management of goods vehicles.”

Until the change, licencing regulations meant that driving a vehicle with a maximum authorised mass of more than 3.5 tonnes would normally require a Category C1 licence, which allows the driving of vehicles weighing between 3.5 tonnes and 7.5 tonnes. Consequently, fleet operators of alternatively-fuelled vehicles wanting to remain below that regulatory threshold must either suffer a constrained payload or employ drivers with a category C1 licence. That entails higher staffing costs, and in practice, said the Government, was “holding back many fleets from adopting alternatively fuelled vehicles”.

Future of Mobility Minister Jesse Norman said: “The Government’s ‘Road to Zero Strategy’ sets out our ambition for all new cars and vans to be effectively zero emission by 2040.

“By changing these driving licence requirements, we are seeking to support business owners by enabling them to use alternatively fuelled vehicles more easily.”

James Firth, the FTA’s head of road freight regulation, said: “Our members are committed to transitioning to low or zero emission vehicles, but with their propulsion systems and fuels far heavier than those of petrol and diesel, operators were left in a difficult position. They were forced to either lose payload or use heavier vehicles, which incur the expense of tighter regulatory regimes in relation to driver and operator licensing. These limitations were preventing operators from investing in ‘green’ vehicle technology; they were a clear barrier to the adoption of low and zero emission vans.

“The guidance will fuel interest in the alternatively-fuelled commercial vehicle market; hopefully it will pave the way for such vehicles to become the norm rather than the exception.”

Alternatively-fuelled vehicles – the guidance refers to electric, natural gas, biogas and hydrogen – can have an increased kerb weight compared with their conventionally fuelled counterparts.

The change in legislation is the result of a European derogation, which the Government says will remain in place until 2023. It will then conduct a review of the legislation to evaluate its impact and consider whether it is still necessary.

Further information is available at: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/798056/guidance-category-b-licence-requirements.pdf

New van technologies guide to help fleets cut fuel cost, emissions and climate impact

Van fleet managers are coming under increasing pressure to introduce low and zero-emission models, particularly in urban areas, as towns and cities nationwide turn to introducing clean air zones.

Additionally, with van fleet replacement cycles being up to as much as eight years and the Government planning to end the sale of new petrol and diesel vans by 2040 – although its advisory Committee on Climate Change in a recent new report recommended bringing forward that date to 2030, or 2035 at the latest – organisations advising businesses on future-proofing their fleets for a low and zero emission future say now is the time to investigate and trial alternative powertrains.

To help businesses transform their light commercial fleets from a typically diesel operation, the Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership (LowCVP), a public-private partnership working to accelerate a sustainable shift to lower carbon vehicles and fuels and create opportunities for UK business while also providing advice to Government, and consultancy Cenex, the UK’s first Centre of Excellence for Low Carbon and Fuel Cell technologies, have published a new guide.

The number of vans licensed to operate in the UK has grown by around 25% in 10 years, largely due to the huge rise in internet shopping and consequently home deliveries, to 4.1 million vehicles. Consequently, say the two organisations, cleaning up van emissions, which now represent about 33% of all oxides of nitrogen and more than 15% of the carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from all road transport, has become an increasingly important focus for policy.

Coupled with the introduction in April of the Ultra-Low Emission Zone in central London and with Birmingham due to introduce a clean air zone impacting on van fleets in January 2020 and other locations set to follow, there is increasing impetus for fleet managers to consider low and zero emission vehicle van options, it is claimed.

What’s more, reducing CO2 emissions also makes business sense as lower carbon vehicles can be cheaper to run, it is suggested.

Gerry Keaney, chief executive of the British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association, said: “Vans are an essential business tool and mobile workplace for businesses across the UK. At the same time, van users, particularly those operating in urban areas, are coming under increasing pressure to reduce their emissions.

“The next few years will bring an increasingly wide range of low and zero-emission van models, which will be available to buy outright, lease or rent by the year, month, week, day or hour. Van users will have a lot of options and this Guide will help them make the right decision.”

Small vans presently dominate electric light commercial vehicle sales – notably the Nissan e-NV200 and Renault Kangoo ZE – but 2019 could be a watershed year for the sector with the emergence of a number of larger vans. They include the Ford Transit plug-in hybrid (pictured), the only hybrid in the one-tonne van class; and the arrival of plug-in versions of the Mercedes-Benz Vito and Sprinter. Other plug-in vans due to arrive in the UK within the next 12 months are likely to include Volkswagen’s e-Caddy and e-Transporter.

The ‘Low Emission Van Guide’ is intended for use by van buyers, fleet managers and procurement leaders, and provides an overview of low emission vans, the alternative fuels and technologies that can be used as well as providing advice on fleet management best practice.

It includes information on:

  • The low emission van market and range of Government incentives for adoption available
  • The most appropriate technologies for circumstances relating to particular fleets
  • The key factors to consider in terms of low emission vans, fuels and related technologies
  • Best practice options for cutting costs and emissions from conventional vehicles
  • A selection of ‘real world’ case studies showing what can be achieved.

The Guide analyses operational, financial and environmental considerations and a range of technology options including battery electric vans; plug-in hybrid and extended range electric vehicles; the vehicle charging infrastructure; liquefied petroleum gas and BioLPG; compressed natural gas and biomethane; high blend biodiesel and hydrogen fuel cell and dual fuel options.

Andy Eastlake, managing director of the LowCVP, said: “Van use is one of the most important and complex road transport sectors. It’s been growing rapidly and represents a major source of the polluting emissions which we urgently need to tackle from both air quality and climate change perspectives. Government has committed to all new vans in 2040 being effectively zero emissions, so we need to move now.

“Technology is advancing rapidly in many areas and it’s vital that fleet managers are up-to-speed with the latest options. This new Guide should help them get close to the forefront of developments and plan for the future.”

Furthermore, said Cenex’s head of transport Steve Carroll: “With van ownership cycles being anywhere up to eight years, it’s essential that fleets now start to investigate, trial and understand how to successfully implement lower emission vehicle technology options so they can form part of a future-proof fleet replacement strategy.

“This clear and informative Guide is an essential read for van operators. It sets out the business and environmental case for a range of lower emission and zero emission technology options available to replace the use of conventional diesel vans – as well as an introduction to installing and overcoming infrastructure challenges.”

The guide can be downloaded at: https://www.lowcvp.org.uk/

Fleet chiefs warned of importance of post-repair recalibration of ADAS-equipped vehicles

Fleet operators and vehicle repairers have been reminded of the importance of ensuring Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS)-equipped models are correctly recalibrated with the safety critical features working effectively following maintenance.

The warning comes from Thatcham Research, the motor insurers’ automotive research centre, which says that recalibration of the safety critical systems “must be undertaken and confirmed within vehicle manufacturer tolerances” post repair.

As the number of vehicles on the road fitted with ADAS, such as autonomous emergency braking (AEB), adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, lane keep assist, night vision cameras and adaptive lighting rises above 10% – more than four million vehicles with many of them being fleet models – Thatcham Research says there is a dearth of information on how to approach the repair of the safety critical systems.

Furthermore, most ADAS features rely on windscreen-mounted cameras in order to operate effectively. Therefore, if a windscreen needs replacing then those cameras will also have to be recalibrated to ensure the safety systems continue to function correctly.

Additionally, as new vehicles are introduced to fleets it is certain with the rise of connected vehicles and more ADAS features being added – 11 safety features including AEB will be mandatory on all new cars from 2021 – the need for post-repair calibration will continue to grow. By 2020, it is predicted that more than 40% of new vehicles will have at least two types of driver assistance systems fitted as standard.

As a result, Thatcham Research is also working with the automotive industry to develop a Code of Practice. It has commenced a round of consultation with vehicle manufacturers, insurers, windscreen repair and replacement companies, equipment providers and repairers. The full Code of Practice will be released later this year.

Richard Billyeald, Thatcham Research’s chief technical officer, said: “As ADAS continues its ever-increasing penetration into the car parc, the lack of a clear approach to the repair of ADAS-equipped vehicles is having an effect across the whole repair industry. For their own peace of mind, insurers and repairers need proof that they have taken all reasonable steps to reinstate the safety functions of a vehicle before returning it to the road.”

Referencing fleets, Mr Billyeald said: “Fleet managers have a duty of care to ensure that any ADAS fitted to one of their vehicles is performing correctly post-repair. For their own peace of mind, proof is required to confirm that all reasonable steps to reinstate the safety functions of a vehicle have been taken, before it returns to the road.

“In this respect, it is important that approved repairers are trained appropriately and have a proof of competence for reinstating ADAS safely. During and following successful ADAS calibration key details such as the technician’s name and proof of competence, the equipment used to calibrate, and proof that the system is functioning to within a vehicle manufacturer’s specification and tolerances should also be captured and retained by repairers, alongside other repair process records.

“By doing so, fleet operators can be assured that their drivers will continue to reap the proven safety benefits of ADAS.”

If ADAS sensors, or parts that are in proximity to ADAS sensors, are included in a repair specification, calibration post repair must be completed to confirm sensors are functioning to the vehicle manufacturers’ specified tolerances, according to Thatcham Research.

In addition, to enable identification and safe repairs involving ADAS, vehicle repairers should:

  • Assess for the presence of ADAS sensors and record the outcome clearly
  • Research and seek guidance from relevant repair methods and calibration instructions
  • Ensure all calibration activities are completed by currently competent technicians
  • Complete system calibration in accordance with the relevant repair method/instruction
  • Be able to demonstrate that the calibration of all affected sensors has been completed and that the results of the calibration confirms functionality within the vehicle manufacturer’s specified tolerance – unless stated otherwise in the repair specification
  • Where no specific repair guidance exists, and functionality cannot be proven through systemised calibration, then advice should be sought from a vehicle manufacturer’s dealership network and appropriate action taken prior to vehicle release
  • If vehicle manufacturer information states dynamic calibration, this should be completed and confirmed prior to vehicle release.

Mr Billyeald continued: “ADAS supports the driver to prevent a crash in the first place. This represents a huge step forwards for vehicle safety and the transition into more advanced assisted and automated driving will continue to raise the safety bar. However, whilst that benefit may be fully realised on a new car, maintaining it once a car has been repaired is vital.

“The whole industry needs to work together to make sure ADAS repairs are safe and vehicles are returned to the road quickly and efficiently. Equipment suppliers must ensure that verifiable evidence of a successful calibration is provided. Repairers must invest in training to ensure competent persons are reinstating ADAS safely and vehicle manufacturers must provide ADAS fitment data and consistent advice around which repair scenarios will result in successful ADAS calibration.”

Laurenz Gerger, policy adviser for motor insurance at the Association of British Insurers, said: “Insurers are major supporters of systems which improve vehicle safety and reduce the frequency and severity of crashes. With a number of assistance systems set to become mandatory from 2021, it will be even more important to have clear guidance on managing vehicle repairs involving them. Ensuring these hi-tech systems are working effectively after a repair is an important part of putting a vehicle back onto the roads and we are committed to helping establish the standards and processes to make sure this happens.”