FORS is encouraging van drivers to ensure safe and efficient driving is front of mind, as the seasonal boom in eCommerce makes roads busier.
Black Friday at the end of November now heralds the start of the busy Christmas retail period, as consumers make the most of online deals.
This year, with national lockdown restrictions in place across England, until early December, and localised restrictions in place across Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, online shopping is expected to be more popular than ever. This in turn means safety and efficiency become the watchwords for the light commercial vehicle sector, with more vans than ever completing urban deliveries.
FORS is a voluntary accreditation scheme which caters for all commercial vehicles, with a robust best practice model offering specific guidance for van operators and van drivers.
Paul Wilkes, FORS Business Services Manager, says: “The ongoing shift to online retail has been amplified by Covid 19 lockdown restrictions, meaning more deliveries, many of which are completed by vans. What is more, SMMT figures show a 13.3 per cent increase in new van registrations in October – the highest October on record with 28,753 units registered.* As we enter the busy winter season, the emphasis on safety for van drivers becomes even more important.
“FORS offers van operators and drivers a clear best practice model. This includes training and online toolkits, starting at the Bronze entry-level and moving progressively through our programme, to ensure van drivers are working as safely and efficiently as possible.”
FORS Professional Van Smart eLearning training at FORS Bronze aims to reduce work related road risk and improve safety, for both van drivers and vulnerable road users.
At FORS Silver Van Smart training includes a classroom-based module, and on-cycle training, encouraging drivers to learn how vulnerable road users view the road. Van Smart training also helps van drivers learn anti-idling techniques and understand the importance of route planning and correct vehicle loading to help lower emissions and the costs associated with additional fuel use.
All Van Smart training is accompanied by the Van Smart Toolkit, with a driver handbook, and practical guidance that van operators can use to embed best practice across their business. The toolkit helps van operators reduce the likelihood of collisions, by developing driver skills – particularly in road safety and awareness of other road users. It shows operators how they can reduce financial costs of any collisions which do occur – including insurance premiums, insurance excess, injury claims, legal fees, repairs and loss of business.
FORS also provides a one-day Fleet Management Essentials course specifically for car and van operators who may not have had any additional fleet management training. The session covers driver competence and conduct, vehicle and load safety, and internal fleet quality management procedures, and is designed to help fleet managers understand how to raise standards within their fleets.
Paul Wilkes concludes: “During the height of the first national lockdown, delivery drivers were rightly considered keyworkers. Our reliance on our mobile workforce of van drivers is even more prevalent in this busy winter season – the contribution to the UK economy from the LCV sector is vast.
“We must make sure this fleet of drivers, for whom the roads is their place of work, are supported with the tools they need to ensure their safety and the safety of those who share the roads.”
The Fleet Operator Recognition Scheme (FORS) is a voluntary accreditation scheme established in 2008. It is open to UK and non-UK fleet operators, and to the organisations that award contracts to those operators. With 5,000 members, FORS is now well-established as the go-to accreditation scheme for best practice. For more information visit www.fors-online.org.uk
The FORS Concession is managed by AECOM, which has a long association with FORS over many years contributing to; the development of the Standard; the implementation of systems and scheme support; and the delivery of training and audit quality assurance. AECOM designs, builds, finances and operates infrastructure assets for governments, businesses and organisations in more than 150 countries. www.aecom.com