Monday, September 2, 2013

Freight Transport and Road Haulage Associations Focus on Scotland

Van Conference Details Announced Whilst Lobbying Goes on for a Change in the Law
Shipping News Feature

UK – The road transport sector in Scotland is in the spotlight at the moment with both the Freight Transport Association (FTA) and the Road Haulage Association (RHA) both turning their attention to the country for separate reasons. October will see the FTA’s ‘Van Excellence Conference’ head into Ayrshire at the end of the month whilst the RHA is again lobbying hard for what would seem to be a sensible change in the law as regards truck speeds.

The RHA campaign is centred on the 136 mile stretch of the A9 up to Inverness, backing up comments made by Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Danny Alexander, in a letter to Scottish Transport Minister Keith Brown, attacking plans to fit average speed cameras on the route. The Scottish authorities seem to think that the cameras will reduce accidents on the route, a view to which all responsible parties concur. The RHA Policy Adviser for Scotland, David Eaglesham, points out however a very obvious flaw in the regulations with regard to the road, and indeed, to many others around Britain, as they now stand, saying:

“We agree that slow moving HGV’s cause problems on the A9 due to the current lorry speed limit. I should also make it absolutely clear that whilst average speed cameras may help improve safety on the A9, the Road Haulage Association maintains that a vital component of the package to reduce accidents is to set the HGV limit at 50 mph on single carriageway A-road stretches with this limit strictly enforced. 40 mph on such roads, where the 60 mph national speed limit for cars applies, is a wholly inappropriate, out of date limit for 21st century lorries.

“No wonder motorists feel frustrated in a queue behind an HGV travelling at around 40 mph. These stretches of road on the A9 are prime examples of the need for change, however the RHA firmly believes that this 40mph limit needs raised to 50 mph across all such A-roads in Great Britain.”

Many drivers, of both trucks and private cars, will agree that the disparity between the allowable speeds for the two types of vehicles can, and does, create a scenario where both frustration and accidents increase as following drivers attempt unwise manoeuvres.

Meanwhile the Van Excellence Conference is, according to the FTA, a ‘must attend’ event for those who include the vehicles in their fleet, and is the third the series hosted by FTA, focusing on managing road risk; reducing fuel spend; vehicle specifications; future van technology; VOSA’s view of enforcement in the world of vans; current and upcoming legislative issues; and an examination of the Van Excellence scheme through the eyes of an accredited operator.

The conference is sponsored by Van Excellence industry partners ATS Euromaster, BT Fleet, Hertz Van Rental, Route Monkey and TomTom Business Solutions, all of whom who will be on hand during the day to talk more with delegates about their role as industry partners with Van Excellence. Mark Cartwright, FTA’s Head of Vans, observed:

“This event offers van operators the opportunity to obtain the best advice from a practical, operational viewpoint, giving them peace of mind surrounding the operation of their van fleet. It doesn’t matter whether they are existing Van Excellence members or not, this conference is designed to benefit anyone who operates vans.”

Van Excellence is an industry-led initiative that aims to enhance standards of van operator compliance, celebrate operators who demonstrate excellence and represent the interests of the van industry, and has recently welcomed its first local authority in Scotland to the Van Excellence scheme, East Ayrshire Council, whose representative, Scott Blyth, commented:

“I consider the Van Excellence scheme to be a conclusive reflection of the high standards achieved throughout our Council fleet from both compliance and maintenance aspects. I am grateful to the FTA for their support in this initial venture for us and would urge other local authorities and companies from the private sector to undertake the process.”

The conference will take place on Tuesday 29 October in Dunblane, at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hydro, Dunblane between 9.30am and 4.30pm and discounted rates are available to FTA members. For further information or to book a place click HERE or call the FTA Member Service Centre on 08717 112222.

Photo: Snow, flooding and landslips often affect parts of the A9 and other rural Scottish roads whilst fatal accidents are unfortunately quite a common occurrence.