Graham Hurdle's blog: 11 July 2012 - When technology fails, who gets the blame?
11 July 2011
Graham Hurdle is managing director of E-Training World
As a reward for getting an excellent school report, we took my daughter to Chessington World of Adventures last weekend. As I have never visited this attraction before, I entered the post code into the satnav. We drove up the A3 and exited at the M25 junction, the satnav directed me on to the M25, whilst the brown signs indicated that I should continue on the A3. What should I do? Trust the satnav or the brown directional signs. I decided to put my trust in the signs, well we have all heard of people trusting the satnav to their peril!
My trust in the directional signs was misplaced, the signs soon disappeared and I was left with no choice but to switch my satnav back on, with the word's 'Are you lost Daddy ?' echoing in my ears! Yes, I was soon back on the right road with a happy seven-year-old in the back.
This experience got me thinking. We've all read stories about drivers who have got stuck because they followed the satnav and thought what an idiot! I thought my satnav must be wrong, but it wasn't - so what are we to do?
Vehicles today are crammed full of technology and apart from the vehicles, the fleet driver also has to put his or her trust in other company computer systems.
So is it right that we simply blame the driver if, for example, a van delivery driver working for a supermarket overloads his vehicle and is then involved in a crash?
Shouldn't the managers be at least partly responsible? Yes the driver is responsible for loading the vehicle, ensuring it's not overloaded. However, the company processes the customer's orders, schedules the deliveries and should be able to work out the weight of the load. Some use bar codes, which can identify the weight of each item; thus adding all the weights together will give the total weight of the load.
In another example some vehicles are fitted with a rear facing camera to aid reversing. We expect drivers to use these aids but when the camera breaks we expect the driver to be able to reverse using just his mirrors. If a dust cart didn't arrive at your house because the reversing camera wasn't working you wouldn't be amused. Yet if the driver reversed into your car you would blame the driver and you wouldn't have any sympathy for the fact that he was hampered with faulty equipment.
These are just two examples, there are many more. Some people would say there are too many examples where technology is at fault but it is the driver who gets the blame. As vehicles evolve and become more reliant on technology, will we see a time when it's not the driver who ends up in court but the computer programmers?
I will leave you with one final example; when I was a driver trainer I would often advise my candidates to check the engine oil weekly, but they would say, if the oil level gets low a red light illuminates on the dashboard. I use to tell drivers not rely on the red light and physically check using the dip stick, but if we can't rely on technology what's the point of having it?
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