After two days intensive judging, the shortlists for the 2012 Motor Transport Awards have been selected. Here we preview the finalists in the Fleet Driver of the Year category.


Paul Allen, Royal Mail

In 2004, Paul Allen, a driver with Royal Mail since 1990, became an instructor and in 2008 a driver coach.

Focusing on key aspects of driver performance, Allen has been instrumental in Royal Mail’s safety and fuel efficiency drives. By identifying and encouraging positive driver behaviours, Allen contributed to a trial that saw fuel efficiency improve 5.5%, and he is supporting a roll out of the techniques proven in that trial across other Royal Mail sites.

When Royal Mail won a major contract in 2011, Allen completed a risk assessment that enabled collections to be safely carried out with artics rather than 7.5t vehicles, as before.

The judges said Allen had a strong commitment to safety and took a flexible approach to his working patterns to support Royal Mail’s operational needs.


Linda Ferguson, Yodel

Linda Ferguson is a courier with Yodel in Carlisle and treats collecting and delivering parcels more like a vocation than a job. "Commitment" seems a barely adequate word to describe Ferguson’s approach to her work, with anecdotes of her devotion to duty peppering her entry.

During the recent floods in Carlisle, Ferguson alone made it into work on a Saturday morning, manning the depot for 26 continuous hours, filling out paper manifests as the branch was without power.

Her "steely determination" to ensure her customers always get their deliveries is evidenced by the fact she always makes the drop, no matter what the weather.

When the roads are impassable because of inclement weather, she calls customers and arranges to meet or drop off parcels at a suitable place. Sometimes Ferguson will be some of her more remote customers’ only contact with the outside world, and she has been known to do their shopping as well as deliver their parcels.

Ferguson is a highly professional driver, whose paperwork is always in order and her uniform and vehicle always immaculate. It is this combination of professionalism and compassion that marks her out.

The judges remarked on the fact that Ferguson’s excellence in her job as a driver had led Yodel to use her as both an assessor and trainer for new starters and that her devotion to duty was clearly outstanding.


Derek Aughton, Aspray24

Derek Aughton is a night-time trunker for express logistics firm Aspray24. He has clocked up that most notable of feats for any driver – one million accident-free miles

for his employer since starting there in 1999.

As well as endearing himself to his colleagues in operations and maintenance with this unblemished record, Aughton is also popular with his main delivery depot in Thetford; as a qualified lift truck operator he often unloads his double-deck trailer himself, as well as helping out with freight and vehicle movements.

Aughton passes on his lifetime of acquired skills by mentoring the daytime driver with whom he shares his vehicle and, in addition to his unblemished driving history, also boasts a 100% attendance record and a close-to-perfect drivers’ hours compliance score.

The high regard Aspray24 holds Aughton in is proven by the fact that the firm asked him to evaluate a two-pedal auto gearbox vehicle it was considering adopting, a task he carried out with his usual care and precision.

The judges noted that Aughton was from the old-fashioned school of driving and was not afraid to get stuck in and unload his own vehicle. The one million miles accident-free record was remarkable, as was his commitment to the job despite some difficult personal circumstances.


Jim Whitmore, Dairy Crest

The winner of Volvo’s UK and Ireland Driver Challenge in 2011, Jim Whitmore is clearly an excellent driver. His technique, as evidenced by outstanding fuel economy revealed by telematics and a nine-year accident-free record, is unrivalled, while his 100% attendance and time-keeping is testament to his commitment.

Dairy Crest spotted his attributes and, for the past three years, Whitmore has become a key part of the company’s continuous improvement programme. He has developed and rolled out a driver training programme at his Nuneaton DC that has seen the site comfortably beat Dairy Crest national average mpg figures.

Whitmore’s work to improve safety also saw reportable accident rates plummet to zero in 2011.

Dairy Crest has supported Whitmore in his drive to improve his training skills and he has achieved PTLLS, DSA and Driver CPC training qualifications.

The judges commended a very professional and comprehensive entry that clearly detailed Whitmore’s many achievements, which had taken him beyond a purely driving role and into training and mentoring his colleagues.