Driver First Assist
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Driver First Assist - a new era in road safety

A major new initiative which could both play a dramatic role in reducing road traffic accident casualties and produce a much needed enhancement in the image of the road transport industry in the eyes of the public is being launched at the CV Show in Birmingham today.

Driver First Assist (DFA) is an exciting new life-saving road safety initiative which is supported nationally by all three emergency services and has broad industry support through Skills for Logistics, the transport industry's sector skills council.

The brainchild of former truck driver, Business Development Director at the Road Transport Industry Training Board and General Secretary of the United Road Transport Union, David Higginbottom, DFA will empower professional drivers – starting with truck drivers – to provide initial first aid support at the scene of road traffic collisions (RTC).

“We believe we have an effective strategy to train a significant number of drivers, starting with HGV drivers, but moving on to include van, car fleet and bus and coach drivers over time. These are the drivers out there on the roads where accidents happen and as such are best placed to offer immediate assistance”, says David Higginbottom.

“Our vision is for hundreds – if not, ultimately, thousands – of trained personnel equipped to take action in the first critical moments after a RTC. Simple first aid techniques could do much to reduce casualties while the emergency services own ability to perform would be dramatically enhanced by receiving an onsite situation report the moment they arrive on scene”, said Mr Higginbottom.

The initiative has the active support of the police through the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO), the fire service through the Chief  Fire Officers Association (CFOA) and the ambulance service through the Association of Ambulance Chief Executives (AACE), who believe DFA has the potential to become an important extension of the ambulance service not dissimilar to Community First Responders. The NHS is also behind DFA and so is Britain’s Senior Traffic Commissioner, Beverley Bell. See full list of supporters enclosed.


RTC deaths cost the UK economy in the region of £3bn per annum, about twice the estimated costs associated with traffic congestion. 

It is estimated that 46% of fatalities could be prevented if first aid assistance was available early at the scene, with the potential to save the UK economy in the region £1.5bn p.a.:

    • At least 39% and up to 85% of preventable pre-hospital deaths may be due to airway obstruction[1]

    • Death occurs from a blocked airway in about 4 minutes

    • The target time for an ambulance is about 8 minutes

    • By 2035, traffic volumes are projected to be 46% higher, and average delays 54% longer, than in 2003[2]; the impact on future ambulance response times is self-evident.

Closing a motorway can cost the economy up to £62,000/hour[3]. Senior police officers believe DFA could play an important role in the Department for Transport’s current CLEAR (collision, lead, evaluate, act and reopen) initiative to improve incident clear-up times.

Using the Driver CPC (Certificate of Professional Competence) requirements as an imperative, DFA will present the opportunity for professional drivers to learn new skills by training to become members. This should help restore some credibility to the Driver CPC scheme, help improve the image of the logistics industry and put pride back into the lorry driving profession.

The DFA scheme is being developed in partnership with the emergency services and will be operated as a not for profit Community Interest Company (CIC) with management involving representatives of the emergency services and major stakeholders such as Skills for Logistics.

The CIC’s business model will ensure sustainability independent of traditional forms of fund raising and direct government subsidy. In brief, this will be achieved through the sale of training to transport companies and individuals, as part of their requirement to comply with the Driver CPC regulations. Companies/brands will also be invited to demonstrate their commitment to Corporate Social Responsibility by advertising their support for the DFA community in the form of branded vehicle decals, first aid kits, high visibility jackets, etc.

Sponsorship is now being actively sought, particularly from companies with direct links to aspects of the DFA operation: manufacturers of road safety and first aid products for example. Part of the DFA operation involves the development of a communications App and sponsorship for this and support for the project generally has already been secured from Google. 

DFA’s ‘route to market’ is partnering with major brands and the media to create a high profile campaign. A variety of initiatives involving major national media outlets are under review and will be rolled out later in 2013. For the moment DFA is pleased to be able to announce that it is partnering with Truck & Driver magazine in the CV sector. 

At the CV Show, DFA’s stand (No 110 in Hall 3A) will feature a lifelike simulated RTC between two cars with a truck supplied by seed sponsor Gist Logistics alongside. The stand will be staffed by ‘real’ police, fire and ambulance teams.


    • Reduce RTC fatalities by up to 46%

    • Save the economy c£1.5bn p.a

    • Minimise the seriousness of injuries and improve the speed and effectiveness of casualty recovery, resulting in even further cost savings and reductions in demands on the NHS

    • Improve the speed of reopening roads following an RTC, minimising the costs associated with congestion on the strategic road network

    • Current road safety strategies focus on accident prevention. Dealing with RTCs when all preventative measures have failed is left to the effectiveness of the emergency services. DFA is a ground-breaking initiative that fills the gap between the occurrence of the incident and the arrival of the emergency services at the scene; in effect, improving the response rate of the emergency services

    • Those who train as safety advisors and first aiders tend to become safer themselves, according to the Health and Safety Executive. Creating a cohort of drivers first on scene through DFA presents an opportunity to create a new and enduring culture of road safety


DFA has the potential to become a key element of the UK’s strategic road safety agenda and present business with a unique opportunity to demonstrate commitment to Corporate Social Responsibility, and not just in the logistics industry.

Sponsorship opportunities will be co-ordinated and offered to sponsors by Automotive PR Ltd, DFA’s communications advisors, in the coming weeks.

For further information please contact:

Martin Hayes/Belle Moss                                                                     0207 952 1070



The following organisations have so far expressed their support for DFA:


Gist has provided DFA with seed funding in its set up phase. Gist is a leading supply chain solutions business with a 100 year history and more than 5,000 employees in the UK and Continental Europe. It is part of the €14bn turnover Linde Group.

Association of Ambulance Chief Executives (AACE)

Established in 2011, the Association of Ambulance Chief Executives (AACE) provides ambulance services with a support and structure to coordinate, manage and implement key national work programmes and policy. It also provides the general public and other stakeholders with a central resource of information about NHS ambulance services.

AACE Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of West Midlands Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust, Dr Anthony Marsh said: “The Association of Ambulance Chief Executives is delighted to endorse this important programme. We look forward to working in partnership with DFA to ensure the highest standard of first aid training is provided to all who participate. Sadly, road traffic collisions sometimes result in people suffering life threatening injuries where every minute counts to their chances of survival. By providing professional drivers, who are often first to witness or come across such incidents, with basic life support training and the knowledge to know what to do will ultimately mean patients get the care they need whilst emergency help is en route”.

Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO)

ACPO brings together the expertise and experience of chief police officers from England, Wales and Northern Ireland, providing a professional forum to share ideas and best practice, co-ordinate resources and help deliver effective policing which keeps the public safe. 

ACPO Roads Policing Lead Chief Constable Suzette Davenport said: “Road deaths and serious injuries are devastating but preventable, so we must work together towards eliminating them. The Driver First Assist scheme has been established to enable trained drivers from volunteer companies to spontaneously assist those casualties at collision scenes discovered in the course of their daily work. I believe that such early interventions will help support emergency responders in saving life and reducing congestion”.   

Chief Fire Officers' Association (CFOA) 

The Chief Fire Officers Association (CFOA) is a professional membership association and a registered charity. CFOA members are drawn from all UK Fire & Rescue Services (FRSs) representing the senior executives and managers of the Service. Through the work of its members the Association supports the Fire and Rescue Services of the UK in its aspiration to protect the communities they serve and to continue to improve the overall performance of the fire sector. CFOA provides professional and technical advice to inform national fire policy.

Steve Apter, Chief Fire Officer and CFOA Lead on Transportation – Roads, said: “We are delighted to be able to support the launch of the Driver First Assist scheme. The reduction of death and injuries on our roads is a key priority for the Chief Fire Officers Association and this scheme which will see professional drivers trained in basic first aid techniques will allow instant help for injured drivers before the emergency services arrive”.


Manchester-based DWF is one of the UK’s largest commercial law practices employing over 2,400 people and with an estimated 2013 fee income of over £200m. It has a well-established road transport law practice branded as ‘The Lorry Lawyer’.

National Skills Academy Logistics

The Academy is a unique partnership between logistics companies, government and other key stakeholders, including logistics training and skills development specialists. 


The UK’s largest independent recruitment agency, Pertemps specialises in the provision of full and part time drivers for a variety of applications.

Steve West, managing director of Pertemps, said:  “This is such an effective strategy which has a common sense approach that will save lives. As a leading provider of agency drivers in the UK, DFA is an extremely worthwhile initiative and one that the Drivers@Pertemps brand will be supporting in 2013 and beyond.  This initiative not only allows us to give our drivers additional training and skills but it also provides a proactive platform for our drivers to meet their CPC training requirements.”

Road Haulage Association (RHA)

The RHA is the professional road transport industry’s trade association which promotes three themes for its members: profitability, compliance and sustainability. It is a founder member of the body which runs the CV Show.

“This outstanding scheme will help to save lives and will be of value to everyone involved. Many in the road haulage profession will want to be a part of it”, said Jack Semple, Director of Policy, Road Haulage Association

Skills for Logistics

Skills for Logistics is the sector skills council for the UK's freight logistics industries and is licensed by Government to tackle the skills and productivity needs of employers in the sector.

TNT Express

TNT Express is one of the world’s largest logistics businesses, with operations in more than 200 countries, 70,000 employees and annual revenue of more than €7.3 bn.

Traffic Commissioners

Britain's traffic commissioners are appointed by the Secretary of State for Transport to licence operators who run heavy goods and passenger service vehicles and oversee the conduct of vocational drivers in the industry.

Senior Traffic Commissioner Mrs Beverly Bell said: “I  was  delighted  to  hear  of  the  launch  of  the  Driver  First Assist initiative. It is a sad fact that lorry, bus and coach drivers are exposed to road traffic incidents and are  sometimes one of the first on the scene. This initiative,  which  will  provide  important first aid training to drivers, could  make  a  significant  difference  to  individuals who are tragically involved in road traffic collisions. Traffic Commissioners have always championed the skills and professionalism of  the  road  haulage and passenger transport industries – the majority of professional  drivers  comply  with  the  law and do an excellent job. This initiative  could not only extend that image further but also now give them the skills to save a life”. 

Driver First Assist – a new era in road safety and the image of the transport industry

Driver First Assist – a new era in road safety and the image of the transport industry


[1] Are pre-hospital deaths from accidental injury preventable? Hussain, L M and Redmond, A D, BMJ 1994;308:1077-1080 (23 April)

[2] Alan Cook: A Fresh Start for the Strategic Road Network

[3] Highways Agency Data, 2011