A throw-away comment from a truck driver about night-time deliveries last week summed up perfectly one of the reasons why delivering out-of-hours makes a lot of sense.

“Night-time deliveries are f***ing great; there’s no idiots getting in your way on the streets,” this driver called to his mate as I walked past him incognito. I was having a snoop around various parts of London during the twilight hours last week, accompanied by the MD of the Noise Abatement Society and the director of Transport & Travel Research, both of whom have been heavily involved in quiet delivery trials over the past couple of years (see p3).

With the Olympic Route Network in force between 6am and midnight, it was predicted that the majority of deliveries in London would take place at night during the Olympics. There were fears of operators fighting for kerbside space. This certainly wasn’t the case on the night I was out on the streets of London. Things did get a little busier from 1am onwards but nothing like I was expecting.

What was good to see was the number of different operators’ liveries I spotted, proving many were giving out-of-hours deliveries a try.

A pre-arranged stop-off at a Carlsberg delivery near Marble Arch provided a good insight into the benefits for the drivers of doing night work. The three-man Carlsberg crew all spoke enthusiastically about how delivering at night enabled them to get around London a lot quicker. They also said their customers were happier to stay on a bit longer at the end of their day to receive the delivery rather than go home and then come back during the morning to receive the drinks order.

With the quiet delivery experts on hand we certainly observed some good quiet delivery practices – lengths of rubber hose on load securing chains for instance – but overall it appears there is a lot more work to be done by operators in training and explaining to drivers the importance of implementing quiet delivery behaviour. Most deliveries were being carried out as though it was broad daylight, with a lot of shouting from drivers and careless slamming and banging going on.

Luckily, there appear to have been very few reports of noise complaints from residents during the Games.

Improved efficiency, improved safety and reduced vehicle emissions are real benefits of operating at night, so if all it needs is a little more driver training to enable operators to continue delivering at night, this is surely something to which the industry can commit.