DANGEROUS GOODS • I refer to the Commercial Motor Handbook
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Chapter 7 in which you describe the Packaged Goods Regulations for Dangerous Substances.
Your article states that the regulations cover the nine classes of dangerous substances. This is not the case, the PGR Regulations do not cover explosives, which will be the subject of separate regulations, and radioactives, which are covered by 1974 regulations. Martin Castle Manager — Hazardous Cargo Services Freight Transport Association Tunbridge Wells
MOULDY OLDIES • In reply to BB Moore regarding reprints of old issues, there are already vintage commercial magazines on the market and as they appear to be very successful reprints of old tests etc, Commercial Motor should get a good response.
As the 1930s seems to be the most popular era and many of the vehicles were still in service well after the war, a series which started in 1930 and worked towards the 1940s reprinting show numbers, company operations and a compilation of the year's roadtests at a cost of £2 or £3 per copy would not be prohibitive.
I look forward to your decision with interest.
M Ostick Heaton Chapel Stockport
AU. FAIR ON BREAKDOWNS?
• What an interesting article the breakdown repair service story was! I'm sure the engineers who were called out in the middle of the night will be pleased to read of their expertise in repairing a truck which has been Imobbled by a journalist.
I am sure that some of the manufacturers whose back-up systems were put to the test will be impressed by the way their actions were reported.
I know the media receives a fair share of flak these days, making a particularly mediocre story into a major headline, while still claiming to remain "impartial", but your article really does take the biscuit!
Yes, it was nice to see our name in print, sorting out jobs which for one reason or another could not be attended by the relevant repair organisation. But come now, let's have the facts. Take the case of the stranded Foi:len. Your TB says "the operator had been unable to contact the call-out fitter at the nearest Foden dealer, North Riding Group of Carlisle". If that's the case, how is it that Hudsons have a copy of NRG's order to attend to the breakdown? The lady who called us out was most apologetic, explaining that the callout fitter was already occupied, and as we were only a few moments away, could we help? Of course, we obliged. If one of our customers is in trouble in Carlisle, then we would ask if NRG, or any other garage could assist us, before trailing 90km/11/2 hours up the motorway.
Which brings me on to another point. According to your table at the start of the article, you have put down response times in such a manner as to suggest that response times were, to say the least, abhorrent. Well, the way I see it is, that according to your comments, the first call was made from a Little Chef restaurant at approximately 9.45pm (you mention that you were unable to make the second call "10 or 15 minutes later") and we all know that Little Chefs close at lOpm sharp. Then 40 minutes later, when you had found another public call-box, you were informed that Hudson were "on their way" and then "after our second call the Hudson fitter arrived" five minutes later. After carefully calculating these times, I reckon that the response time was one hour, from your first call, to our fitters' arrival. And yet you state in your table, that it took 132 minutes. Cobblers, don't you think?
Also, in the case of the knobbled Scalia, our fitter was on the scene in 23 minutes. Not bad, at past two in the morning! Yet you imply that our response was 5.7mins/lan (whatever that means) for a 14km journey.
No, I think your article will have done no good at all to the reputation of the organisations or the garages you have named.
I wonder if the "angry young man" from Cumbria Commercials will be amused by your comments?
To conclude, I think that your article seemed bent on proving us all to be incompetent; I agree that our systems should be checked upon regularly, if only to iron out the creases. You went beyond that, and I think you own us all an apology. We look forward to seeing such an apology in print. Nigel Bowman Director Hudson Engineers (Sandside) Milnthorpe Cumbria vice that manufacturers are keen to advertise, but will remain largely untried for the majority of customers. Although we did not set out to test the diagnostic skills or resourcefulness of any mechanic, the general bearing, and the standard of work were, we felt, worthy of comment. If an engineer was particularly painstaking in the repair, or was reassuring and cheerful, then we mentioned it as some engineers were neither.
We timed a callout from the time of the initial phone call to the manufacturer's breakdown clearing house, to the time a mechanic arrived at the stricken vehicle. It is all the same waiting time for a stranded driver.
To find a common measure to evaluate the efficiency of the various services, we used the time of response, and the distance of the engineer from the breakdown, to incorporate the variable of distance into the final figure.
In the case of the Foden, the waiting time was a total of 132 minutes, and as Hudson Engineers is 14km away from the breakdown, a measure of the efficiency of that response would be time/distance — 132114 = 9.4. The equivalent figure for the Scania was therefore 80114 = 5.7.
If as you state, an engineer was tending the Scania within 23 minutes of being called, then the rest of the 80 minute response time was taken up with calls to and from the breakdown clearing house and ourselves. None of which alters the fact that the Scania sat waiting for attendance for one hour and twenty minutes.
In our conclusion we found little to seriously criticise in the performance of almost all our repairers. We are surprised therefore that it prompts such a strong reaction.
More response to the breakdown survey next week. Ed.