Blakedale | Investing in safer fleets
For family business, Blakedale, the motivation to reduce the dangers of working on live carriageways is deep-rooted.
The Lancashire-based company is one of the UK’s leading suppliers of self-drive Impact Protection, Traffic Management and General Maintenance vehicles. Since purchasing its first hire vehicle 14 years ago, Blakedale’s fleet has expanded to over 200, and now serves local authorities and roadwork operators throughout the country.
Prior to this, the family that owns Blakedale operated a motorway lighting installation company in the 1980s and 1990s, and so has a very personal understanding of the issues road workers face on a daily basis.
Richard Smith, Joint Managing Director of Blakedale, says: “The safety of road workers and road users is something that is very close to all our hearts. Any work activity involving the installation, maintenance and removal of temporary traffic management is potentially dangerous.
“Our family has experienced working in these harsh conditions, back when road workers often only had hard hats, hazard lights and a few cones for protection. We also know the anxiety of waiting at home for loved ones to return from working on the roads on treacherous winter nights.”
Going the extra mile
Thankfully safety within the highways industry has come a long way since then, with the introduction of vehicles designed to be highly visible to oncoming traffic.
Impact Protection Vehicles, also known as Crash Cushions, with their illuminated arrow signs at the rear, have been particularly revolutionary in terms of reducing collisions between road user vehicles and maintenance vehicles. In the event of a collision, these Crash Cushions minimise injury severity by absorbing some of the impact energy.
“As a supplier of these vehicles we believe it is our duty to ensure they provide as much protection as possible, for both road workers and road users. This involves working collaboratively with our customers and regularly upgrading our vehicles to ensure they not only aim to meet, but exceed industry safety standards,” adds Richard.
This commitment to going the extra mile is amply demonstrated in Blakedale’s vehicle specifications. All of the company’s vehicles are fitted with eight additional strobe lights to maximise visibility.
Blakedale also installs side-scan CCTV cameras, driver audible alerts and vehicle manoeuvring warning alarms to its Crash Cushion Vehicles. These technologies, which have been pioneered in Transport for London areas to improve driver visibility and reduce the risk of close proximity blind-spot collisions, are increasingly being specified elsewhere in the UK as a matter of best practice.
Blakedale’s proactive approach and willingness to invest in innovation has been instrumental to its success. Last year, Blakedale invested over £2M on new vehicles as part of a rolling fleet renewal programme. This investment is continuing into 2016 and beyond.
Richard explains: “We are constantly evolving and improving the safety features of our new build vehicles and we want our loyal hire customers to benefit from the latest state-of-the-art technology.”
Monitoring and anticipating changes to industry standards enables Blakedale to develop and perfect compliant solutions before they are required.
One of the safety targets within the industry at the moment is to develop solutions that prevent road workers from crossing live carriageways on foot to erect temporary traffic management signs. For this purpose, the Interim Advice Note (IAN) 187/15 recommends the introduction of special Convoy Control Vehicles for working on dual carriageways.
Richard says: “Having closely followed the progress of the IAN 187/15, and as a result of our ongoing investment, Blakedale is aiming to offer vehicles that meet this new standard soon, which will help reduce the risks to road workers even further.”
For more information about Blakedale, please visit www.roadsafety.co.uk.