Roddy Graham's Blog: May
31 May 2007
Roddy Graham is chairman of the ICFM and commercial director of Leasedrive Velo
Am I enjoying motoring heaven? The drives I have made today and yesterday have been a breeze...
31 May 2007: Motoring bliss?
Am I enjoying motoring heaven? The drives I have made today and yesterday have been a breeze.
They hark back to times of old when you could make quiet, steady progress. Traffic has been free flowing, drivers have demonstrated courtesy on the road and there hasn't been a single hold-up, even when driving into our capital city.
What can have happened? It suddenly dawned on me, the schools are out! Definitely the best time to be driving on the nation's roads.
This got me thinking, maybe there is a more creative solution to our weekday peak time traffic congestion problems.
As more and more employees work flexible hours to achieve a better work/life balance, then perhaps Government could consider introducing more flexible school start and finish times. This would spread traffic congestion over a wider timeframe, thus alleviating traffic congestion.
Working mothers and fathers dropping their children off at school should be able to accommodate the new arrangements through their own more flexible working hours.
What do readers think?
24 May 2007: Gatso's gonna get you
News comes in that the latest Gatso cameras to be installed will be digital. What this means to persistent speeders is that they can no longer gamble on the speed camera they have just passed at speed having run out film. These new cameras will just keep flashing and flashing - and they could well be recording every transgression and passing registration number details on to the police. It's good news for those that have just had a car stolen but bad news for speeders and those who fail to pay their road tax on time.
Technically, these latest £10,000 cameras are the business, and will even cover four lanes of motorway, and you can be sure councils will have no hesitation in replacing old cameras if it can be demonstrated to them that these latest safety devices will make the town hall cash registers ring.
Now, if councils were made to spend the revenues generated from speed cameras on improving our roads then I could see real benefit in these latest devices in improving road safety, easing congestion and reducing traffic delays. Then again, we have heard so many recent dire warnings on the number of motorists about to lose their licences for collecting too many penalty points that we should soon have clearer roads ahead anyway.
15 May 2007: An easy target
We all know that cars are contributing to global warming, that's a given. We also all accept that we all need to do something about it.
However, how many of us are aware that there is one single contributor to global warming that we could fairly easily address? And it does not involve technological solutions! So what am I talking about? Deforestation.
According to a report published by the Oxford-based Global Canopy Programme, deforestation accounts for up to 25% of global emissions of heat-trapping gases. Yes, one quarter! By comparison, transport accounts for 14%.
Since the report was published yesterday, deforestation has released as much CO2 into the atmosphere as eight million people flying from London to New York in just 24 hours!
Rainforests have long been recognised as the lungs of the Earth, forming a precious cooling effect around the Earth's equator. What is now only being recognised is the literally destructive effect of deforestation, equivalent to destroying forests covering England, Wales and Scotland each year.
Simply by halting the destruction of the forests in Brazil, the Congo, Indonesia and elsewhere could have a dramatic effect on reducing our climate change. Indonesia is now the third largest emitter of greenhouse gases in the world, followed closely by Brazil. Neither has any significant industry.
Backed by earlier reports from Stern and McKinsey, this latest report states that halting the deforestation is the single biggest opportunity for cost-effective and immediate reduction in carbon emissions.
What is needed to stop conservation from losing out to commerce is the inclusion of standing forests in the internationally-regulated carbon markets. Cash incentives need to be given by governments to halt the disastrous cutting down of large swathes of the world's forests. If western governments already provide subsidies for uncultivated land (the EU offers £135 per hectare for environmental services to farmers), then surely the donation of funds is the most practical and quickest fix to our collective problem.
So the next time you read an article on a new hybrid car, or the increasing potential for bio-fuels, think about the rainforests. Think twice about buying more decking or garden furniture from a source that does not promote sustainable forests and lobby your local MP to put further pressure on our Government to include standing forests in the Kyoto protocol and in international carbon markets. We must all do our bit but one of the guiding principals in business is the 80:20 rule. If ever the rule needed applying, it is now with deforestation.
Deforestation is another classic example of governments not properly dealing with a situation. Surely, the answer is to get to the root of the problem as opposed to messing about with some of the lesser symptoms. I suppose we should not be surprised as motorists are, and always have been, an easy target.s type="heading">
10 May 2007: Safer travelling
I don't know why but it seems every Bank Holiday brings news of new fatalities on Britain's roads. However, nothing can have prepared us for the horrific news that no fewer than five members of a stag party, plus a recovery driver, had been killed in one of the M25's worst accidents. The tragedy happened at around 2.15 on Monday morning as a recovery truck carrying a broken down minibus and five members of the party was in collision with the back of a truck 30 miles from Brighton. Among the victims was the best man while the groom, travelling in another recovery vehicle, was not involved in the accident. Only one person survived the accident among the occupants of the recovery vehicle. Our deepest sympathies go out to the families and friends of the victims.
Every Bank Holiday we receive plenty of warnings on impending gridlock at key points in our roads system as people travel to visit friends, relatives or spend days away at the beach. What we don't receive is practical advice on how to complete our journey safely.
It will be weeks before we learn the cause of this latest tragedy, and I am sure the final cause will have little bearing on what I am about to state.
However, if we are to avoid more deaths and serious injuries surely one step should be to prepare drivers, who rarely venture out in their cars or are not used to heavy traffic, on how to drive safely? I am sure that would help reduce the black statistics that seem to hit the news every Bank Holiday.
2 May 2007: You can always shop elsewhere
Have you seen the latest Nationwide ads on TV? They're great! Not only are they amusing but they also underline the crap service you can receive from some suppliers, in this case building societies and banks.
I would hasten to add, for those who may not have seen them, that does not include Nationwide.
I particularly like the one where the customer service representative turns his back on the couple and talks to them through his headset. He claims he needs to get the practice in.
I think we all have our stories to tell about our call centre experiences but this has to be one of the ultimate take-offs. It does bring to mind though the fact that there is another way of doing business.
NatWest makes great play of the fact that you don't have to speak to a call centre, you can speak to your local branch. Lloyds TSB has cottoned on and is following suit. And, before you think I've suddenly gone soft and that I now like financial institutions, I have a nightmare story of my own.
Without going into the horrible detail, I had a semi-dormant bank account that needed attention and it took me a full two weeks to get someone within this large organisation to speak to me! If I could have talked to a human being face-to-face, I am convinced the matter would have been resolved in no time.
Fleet management is no different.
You can put up with speaking to a call centre, once you get through, or you can speak to a team of dedicated advisers who understand your business. The choice is yours.
Although I may be accused of bias, I know which I would pick. For those of you who read my blogs on a regular basis you will see that it is not just politicians who annoy me!
Personal preference for levels of customer service lies at the end of the day with the customer.
Why is it that us Brits seem to accept poor customer service and still go back for more - perhaps if we made a stand and voted with our feet more of these large organisations would realise that we do not want to be treated like second class citizens, particularly when we have a problem or want to register a complaint.
After all, you can always shop elsewhere.