This week, TNB caught up with Mark Field, a long-serving driver for Bibby Distribution, and the current holder of the prestigious Microlise Driver of the Year title.
Name, age and hometown
Mark Field, 48, from Kempston in Bedfordshire.
How long have you been driving professionally?
I passed my Class 1 and 2 tests within four weeks of each other in 2006. I’ve been driving ever since.
What attracted you to driving in the first place?
I was originally in the upholstery trade, but in 2005 I suffered a serious accident and was made redundant. It was hard finding the same sort of work, so I decided I wanted a change and used some of my redundancy pay to cover the cost of training as an HGV driver.
What’s the best thing about your job?
It’s all about the team. I work out of one of Bibby Distribution’s depots in Milton Keynes delivering cans from Ball Packaging. I’m one of the depot assessors, so I coach drivers and love sharing advice.
What’s the worst thing about your job?
I want to drive as safely as possible – so it drives me mad when other road users drive dangerously, as it puts me and others at risk.
What do you drive at the moment? Delivering what and on which routes?
I drive a Euro VI MAN truck for Bibby Distribution, delivering cans for Ball Packaging. We run a dedicated fleet, so I tend to drive on a standard route between distribution centres in Milton Keynes and Northampton
What monitoring do you have on your vehicle and how do you feel about it?
Every truck on the Bibby Distribution fleet is fitted with telematics from Microlise, which records our driving performance. I think it’s fantastic. We’re rewarded for driving as fuel efficiently as we can and for reducing wear-and-tear on the vehicle, so it makes you an all-round better driver.
Do you think this technology has made you a better driver and, if so, how?
Absolutely. First, it makes you think about how you drive. Second, the driver training team at Bibby Distribution is very good – they use the data from the telematics to understand how you drive and then where there are areas you could improve on, they show you and explain how. Then it’s up to you! Plus, as you get better, you can see it in the telematics results so it encourages you to keep going.
Microlise also runs the Driver of the Year Awards, where they review the telematics data from more than 210,000 drivers across the country – and it was a huge honour to be named as both Short Distance Driver of the Year and overall Driver of the Year in 2019! During the previous year, I didn’t record a single instance of harsh braking, overrevving or acceleration – and that’s because I’m encouraged to think about my driving and get great support.
What’s the feature in your truck that’s most important to you?
The radio – when you’re on the road, it’s your best mate.
What do you think of the state of the roads and what do you think of facilities across the country for professional drivers?
Road conditions can be pretty poor – there are often issues with potholes, or road signs covered by foliage, or inadequate road markings.
The biggest issue with facilities for professional drivers is that there is a real shortage of safe places to park when away from the depot.
If you could tell fleet managers across the country one thing on behalf of drivers everywhere, what would it be?
Driving a truck safely and efficiently is a skill – so don’t undervalue us! We’re essential in helping you maintain your safety record and keeping costs under control.
We hear lots about the driver shortage. From the driver’s perspective , what do you think can be done to attract more people into the profession?
Government funding could help companies to train up more drivers – that way, we’ll raise standards and people will see how it’s a highly skilled job. Improving the facilities for drivers on the road would also help as well as it makes the job more pleasant.
Finally, with autonomous driving systems and pelotons on the way, how do you feel about the future?
They’re interesting, but I think it will be quite some time before they will become widespread. The next big thing will probably be electric trucks, so there will still be a requirement for skilled drivers.
This article first appeared on SMMT.co.uk on 19 March 2020: https://www.smmt.co.uk/2020/03/a-drivers-perspective-the-view-from-inside-the-cab/