vGroup Chairman becomes Driver First Assist Director and calls on fleets and industry suppliers to back life-saving initiative

Reducing death and injury on the UK’s roads and worldwide should be a priority for all employers and their employees, which is why Martyn Nash, chairman of vGroup International, has become a director of Driver First Assist (DFA).

vGroup International, the UK’s leading provider of motor accessory essentials to contract hire and leasing companies, motor manufacturers and franchise dealers, is already a DFA sponsor and that commitment has been further reinforced by Mr Nash’s appointment to the board.

DFA, a non-profit making organisation, trains professional drivers to provide life-saving first aid and manage the scene at a road traffic collision, prior to the arrival of the emergency services.

Earlier this year the government backed the life-saving road safety initiative and Mr Nash hopes to use his influence to lobby companies operating vehicle fleets as well as fleet industry suppliers, motor manufacturers and franchise dealers to back the organisation.

One company already backing the call is LeasePlan UK, one of the country’s largest vehicle leasing and management companies with a fleet in excess of 165,000 company cars and commercial vehicles and part of the largest vehicle management group in the world operating a fleet of 1.55 million vehicles in 32 countries and across five continents. The company’s high mileage employees are already DFA trained and now customers are being offered the opportunity.

Mr Nash, a passionate campaigner for reducing death and injury on the UK’s roads and around the world, said: “There are five road deaths every day on the UK’s roads and every year 22,800 people are seriously injured and almost 170,000 people slightly injured. We have got to reduce those numbers.”

The World Health Organisation say every year 1.25 million people die as a result of a road traffic crash and between 20 and 50 million more people suffer non-fatal injuries, with many incurring a disability as a result of their injury.

With around 25% of crashes on UK roads involving at-work drivers and all incidents calculated by the government to cost the economy annually £16.3 billion, Mr Nash said: “Businesses do care about the health and well-being of their drivers so we hope more corporates will support DFA.”

vGroup International’s portfolio of companies includes Wallace Cameron, which has been servicing the needs of the first aid market for almost 70 years. Furthermore, road safety is a perquisite for Mr Nash’s son, James, vGroup International’s operations manager and a professional racing driver who has competed in the British and World Touring Car Championships.

Mr Nash said: “Being the father of a racing driver and also being the chairman of a business that owns a major supplier of first aid products further focuses the mind on safety whether on the road or in the workplace or the home.

“I believe that everyone working in the automotive industry, whether that be at a motor manufacturer, in a franchise dealership, at a fleet supply company or as a fleet decision-maker, has a duty to work to reduce death and injury on the roads.”

LeasePlan UK HR director Steve Moss said: “Driving is one of the most dangerous things we do day to day. At LeasePlan UK we recognise this and so we offer solutions for safer driving both to our customers and our employees. This fits with our broader approach to being a responsible business where we believe that everyone has the right to work in a healthy and safe environment - especially if they spend a lot of time on the road.

“That’s why we offered the opportunity to all of our employees who drive a lot of miles the chance to attend DFA training.

“The DFA programme is a really good way of giving drivers more skills to act as first responders to a medical situation on our roads - hopefully making them a safer place for all of us.

“Following the successful delivery of the training to our employees we have identified that the DFA initiative is something that would meet some of the objectives of our clients and we will be working with the DFA team to promote this with our clients.”

LeasePlan UK general manager - procurement Darren McMillan added: “Spending so much time in the car as I do, like so many of us, when I see accidents on the road I have wondered what could I do if I was needed to help or even if I had the skills to help.

“The excellent training from DFA has given me the knowledge and skills to be able to help if needed until the emergency services arrive. I’m now a part of a community of trained drivers that can support other road users.

“The DFA programme is an excellent opportunity for LeasePlan and DFA to work together to support our clients and increase the size of the trained community.”

DFA, which was created with the help of the emergency services and whose backers include the UK's Traffic Commissioners, the Freight Transport Association and the Road Haulage Association, highlights estimates that suggest 46% of road fatalities would be prevented and about £1.5 billion per year saved if prompt accident management and first-aid was available at road accident scenes.

Welcoming Mr Nash as a DFA director, the organisation’s founder David Higginbottom said: “We are delighted that Martyn has agreed to join the board of DFA. He has an excellent track record as a businessman and is already contributing to the management wellbeing of DFA. He also brings an impressive portfolio of business connections. However, his most important attribute is his passion for what we do and his determination to help ensure DFA achieves its goals, both here and further afield.”

Transport Minister Andrew Jones backed the DFA and offered government assistance during a meeting with Mr Higginbottom and Labour MP Rob Flello, a member of Parliament's Transport Select Committee and chairman of its Freight Transport Group.

Following the meeting, Mr Flello said: “The government’s endorsement is a massive boost for DFA and strengthens the support it has already received from the three emergency services, the NHS and others. It will go a very long way to helping the charitable organisation achieve its long-term aim of giving thousands of lorry, van, car fleet and bus drivers, the skills they need to save lives in the crucial first few minutes after a road accident.”

Milton Keynes-based vGroup International provides around 300,000 roadside assistance and motoring first aid kits a year to contract hire and leasing companies for fitment in new company cars and commercial vehicles when delivered to customers. Earlier this year it called on rental organisations to follow suit suggesting that by failing to equip vehicles with their kits they were potentially falling foul of their duty of care responsibilities.