Pressure is mounting on Britain's daily rental companies to follow the lead of contract hire and leasing businesses and boost their road safety focus by including roadside assistance and motoring first aid kits in all vehicles.
vGroup International, the Milton Keynes-based company that provides around 300,000 of the kits a year to more than 100 contract hire and leasing companies and brokers for fitment in new company cars and commercial vehicles when delivered to customers, says its campaign is gathering momentum.
Major contract hire and leasing companies are now backing its call and the company has held meetings with a number of daily rental companies with a view to them following suit so they don't fall foul of their duty of care responsibilities.
Martyn Nash, chairman of vGroup International, the UK's leading provider of motor accessory essentials, says fleets typically expect a rental vehicle to be a like-for-like temporary replacement for a leased vehicle. That, he says, should also include key accessories, to protect the employee.
vGroup International launched its campaign earlier this year and Mr Nash said: "Our meetings with some of the leading UK rental companies show they are receptive to our stance. They understand our view that corporate customers expect kits comprising roadside assistance and motoring first aid essentials to be in all cars driven by employees irrespective of the provider.
"Health and safety at work legislation requires employers to have first aid kits easily accessible to employees in factories, offices and shops. The same regulations cover the driving of company vehicles so it makes logical sense for rental vehicles - and indeed all vehicles driven on business - to be similarly equipped."
vGroup International has been working with Hitachi Capital Vehicle Solutions for 13 years and provides around 8,000 safety kits a year to the company to put in vehicles.
Scott Holland, head of operations at Hitachi Capital Vehicle Solutions, said: "Hitachi includes a standard safety pack in all leased vehicles to ensure drivers are equipped with at least the basic roadside assistance in the unfortunate event of an accident or breakdown.
"We also believe that our fleet customers expect this as part of the vehicle from a duty of care compliance perspective. I feel that this element is missing from the rental providers and that this needs to be addressed as part of their proposition to lease providers."
vGroup International has a 84% market share among the UK's largest contract hire and leasing companies by fleet size and counts the sector's largest companies - Lex Autolease, LeasePlan UK, Alphabet (GB) and Arval UK - among its customers as well as top 10 providers Volkswagen Group Leasing and Hitachi Capital Vehicle Solutions collectively operating some 800,000 company cars and vans.
Alphabet (GB) has been a vGroup International customer for 15 years and last year took delivery of 28,000 driver packs. Richard Jordan, the company's supplier relationship manager, said: "It is becoming increasingly important to provide such safety elements as part of the duty of care to drivers, and we are being asked by fleet managers more and more for such items."
Nick Hardy, sales and marketing director of Ogilvie Fleet, a vGroup International customer for many years with safety kits frequently bespoked to meet individual customer demands, said: "The majority of vehicle leasing companies provide the kits but few rental companies, but all vehicles are susceptible to breakdown or being involved in any other incident. Therefore, it is a sensible idea that such packs should be standard in all vehicles."
A standard vGroup roadside assistance kit includes health and safety elements: warning triangle, hi-visibility jacket, first aid kit, torch, life hammer, foil blanket and tyre service kit.
The kits supplied to leasing vehicles are based on standard kit but can also include a range of other products such as bandages, plasters and dressings selected by fleet managers following a risk assessment.