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Call for driver guidance on ADAS

Date: 09 April 2018   |   Author: Sean Keywood

Fleets seeking to get the best out of car safety features such as autonomous emergency braking must make sure drivers have the correct training to understand them.

That's according to John Pryor, chairman of fleet operator organisation ACFO.

Pryor was speaking during a Brake Professional webinar titled 'Vehicle procurement for safety - active safety systems', which covered the safety benefits provided by advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS).

These were highlighted by a series of statistics regarding systems such as autonomous emergency braking, which was shown to reduce real-world rear-end crashes by 38%. According to the statistics, reversing automatic braking was shown to reduce reversing crashes by 62%; lane-departure warning systems reduced reports of single vehicle, side-swipe and head-on crash damage by 11%; and intelligent speed assist was said to have the potential, if adopted widely by the car industry, to reduce collisions by 30%.

However, Pryor warned that, while cars are now safer than ever before, just specifying vehicles with safety systems fitted isn't enough, because if drivers did not understand them, they could be less effective.

He said, "If you look at dashboards, there are so many warnings and buttons they can be a distraction. 

"It's down to training to ensure drivers know what is fitted and how it works for them.

"Fleets should insist drivers complete a proper vehicle handover to make sure they are all explained."

Pryor added that training in the systems could also make drivers keener to have them fitted in the first place. He said some were put off having safety systems fitted as extras as they are subject to benefit-in-kind (BIK) taxation.

Pryor said, "In the UK, the government doesn't make any distinction for safety systems and the driver will be paying BIK on options fitted. 

"I know some fleets have had issues, as drivers are unwilling to pay BIK on systems they don't feel they're really using.  

"You need to make sure drivers know what the systems do."

Pryor also added that car manufacturers sometimes did not help make the situation easy to understand, often applying different names to the same systems.

"There are more than 50 different acronyms for safety systems and manufacturers may call them by different names, so it's about making it clear what they all are," he said.

According to Pryor, manufacturers can also help by ensuring continuity, making sure that once systems are offered as standard, they do not subsequently revert back to being optional extras - something fleets also need to keep track of.

"Today's fleets need to have an understanding of what's currently standard fit on vehicles and what's an optional extra," he said.

Alix Edwards, automotive researcher and data team leader at TRL, said the fitting of ADAS should be a key consideration for fleets and explained that the benefits were felt not only in terms of driver safety, but also in reduced instances of crash damage and subsequent repair costs.

She said that managers who were unsure of which systems were applied to which vehicles could get help online, with the Euro NCAP website offering comprehensive guidance.

She said, "When buying a car, we would recommend it has a five-star Euro NCAP safety rating and autonomous emergency braking as a bare minimum, and it's worth giving consideration to other ADAS systems."

When asked what the best way was to increase the provision of ADAS on small fleets with limited budgets, Niall McNally, senior executive at National Vehicle Distribution, said fleet renewal should be a key focus, with advances in technology meaning that the systems were fitted to more new vehicles as a matter of course.

He said, "Replacement cycles are very important. The shorter they can be, the better."