Crucial to the success and prosperity of fleets operating LCVs are its drivers, and to recognise this fact for the 2018 What Van? Awards we have introduced a Driver of the Year prize.

The winner came from a shortlist of exceptional drivers compiled from driver performance data supplied by Lightfoot, the in-cab driver-training technology provider.

The first recipient of this important new award is Stephen Bray, a delivery driver and technician for City Electrical Factors (CEF), the UK’s largest network of electrical wholesalers with 400 branches nationwide. Bray works in an area encompassing the south west of England and is based at the Launceston branch in Cornwall.

Bray has been with CEF for seven years and, in the words of his fleet operations manager Ian Thorn: “During this time our customers have come to rely on Stephen to deliver on time and without fuss.”

Thorn describes Bray as “a true professional behind the wheel”– a testament that is resoundingly backed up by Lightfoot reporting that he consistently achieves 100% on his driving performance. Lightfoot uses an in-cab traffic light display to encourage safer and environmentally friendly driving by highlighting dangerous and inefficient actions such as harsh braking or severe acceleration. The aim is to stay in the ‘green’ through driving smoothly.

Lightfoot claims its customers typically save up to 20% on fuel bills while cutting emissions by a similar amount and reducing accident rates by a remarkable 60%.

As well as his on-road performance, Thorn reports that Bray takes great pride in the condition of his van – keeping it spotless at all times and treating it like his own vehicle.
According to his fleet manager, Bray says “the cab is my office boss, and I’m not going to work in a dirty office!”

Bray’s attention to detail is described as “exceptional” and Thorn says he completes his daily vehicle check in a military-like fashion.

Always willing to go above and beyond the call of duty, Bray organises all his van’s servicing, making the bookings through fleet management company Arval and then following up with the local dealership.

The well-kept van in question is a 100hp 2.2-litre, long-wheelbase, medium-roof Ford Transit that comes equipped with a speed limiter, safety bar, satellite navigation and air-conditioning as well as the aforementioned Lightfoot technology.

Bray delivers to customers within his area and drives to other more distant branches to collect equipment when required.

On top of his driving skills, Thorn says: “His interaction with customers is superb.”

Recycling waste electrical products is an important part of CEF’s role and Bray is vigilant in looking out for recyclable items at customers’ premises that he can then collect on his return runs for the CEF’s Electrical Waste Recycling Group (EWRG), to enable the retailing business to comply with the relevant disposal regulations and duty of care obligations.

In line with the whole CEF fleet, Bray’s Transit is a registered waste carrier, and Shaun Donaghey, group operations director of the EWRG, says: “He does this in a fully compliant and transparent way using all the appropriate legal documentation and a recognition that he could potentially carry hazardous waste.”

In conclusion, Thorn says: “Stephen is a true asset to CEF. He is most deserving of an award of this prestige.”

Highly Commended: Barry Smith, Global Rail

The runner up in the Driver of the Year pool is Barry Smith (pictured, right), a construction manager for Global Rail working on projects in Pilning and Newbury in the west of England and Maindee in Newport.

Smith’s fleet manager Tony Nieli (also pictured, left) praises his diligence in observing health and safety procedures, housekeeping and in organising his team of workers.

Nieli describes Smith’s driving ability as “exceptional” as he commutes every day between his three sites and points out that over many years working for Global Rail he has never received a parking fine, committed a speeding offence or been involved in a road traffic accident.

Smith has completed the FORS-accredited Safe Urban Driving, Cycle Safety and Van Smart courses.

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