For the typical courier driver, the thought of collecting and delivering in London can be intimidating. |
Surprisingly perhaps, that even applies to drivers who have lived and worked in the city for years. It’s actually a total myth that every London driver knows the town like the back of their hands. In fact, many have only a hazy understanding of the roads outside of their own borough.
Even the natives follow certain basic steps when planning a drive around the streets, and if you don’t know London very well you may also find these helpful.
However much ‘following your own nose’ might work as an approach to navigation in cities outside of London, in the capital it won’t.
Roadworks, demonstrations, building work and the labyrinthine nature of the old Roman and Mediaeval streets in the centre mean that it’s perfectly possible to not even be sure of which way is north, let alone where your street is.
So, plan in advance. Work out the route on both a conventional map and a Satnav or internet road map system. Check the two or three routes and find the one that looks most sensible. Remember also to check online for information on events like road works, festivals, parades or demonstrations that could disrupt your route plan.
Take a Second Person
Trying to spot street names when you’re driving in London can sometimes be difficult, bordering on impossible if you’re attempting to drive safely at the same time.
If you can’t spot street names, you’ll get hopelessly lost very fast. So, try to have another pair of eyes with you and avoid believing what your Satnav is telling you if it sounds ludicrous - use common sense and eyesight instead.
Allow Plenty of Time
For much of any 24 hour period, the traffic in London will move at a snail’s pace.
The novice courier driver can get frustrated very quickly and if deadlines look to be threatened, panic can set in. Panic in turn leads to the usually catastrophic decision to start randomly selecting a right/left turn to ‘get around the traffic’.
Don’t get yourself sucked into delivery time promises that are hopelessly unrealistic. You’ll just end up getting seriously lost – Satnav or not.
A Painful Message
London Hackney Cab drivers have to train for months or years navigating the streets of London in a process called ‘The Knowledge’. In spite of all that training and experience of obscure back alleyway shortcuts, many of them will tell you that it is frequently impossible to get anywhere quickly by road in London today. They’ll also confirm that in many cases, jams just cannot be bypassed.
So, if you’ve planned a route, by and large you should stick to it, even if it’s slow going.
For the typical courier driver, this is important in terms of what it means when you’re pricing and committing to jobs involving collection from or delivery to central London.
Remember that, unless it’s Sunday or something like 3am, you’re almost certainly going to find traffic to be painfully slow and no amount of route juggling is likely to change that because there will be millions of others trying to do exactly the same thing. Be sure that such delays are built into your quotation and realistic times are quoted to clients.
Being optimistic as a courier driver is one thing – being naïve is another!
Norman Dulwich is a correspondent for Courier Exchange, the world's largest neutral trading hub for same day courier driver work in the express freight exchange industry. Over 4,000 transport exchange businesses are networked together through their website, trading jobs and capacity in a safe 'wholesale' environment.
Related Articles -