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Shaun Sadlier's blog: Are standard vehicle handovers still relevant?

Date: 01 May 2019

A few years ago, I took the keys to one of the demonstrators left on our head office car park, started the engine, headed out of the business park and onto the dual carriageway.

As I pulled out to overtake a car, there was a disconcerting rumble through the steering wheel. It stopped momentarily but then happened again. I didn't know what was going on, so pulled over and it is fair to say that I was left a little spooked. 

Within a few minutes, I'd worked out what the problem was. The car was fitted with lane departure warning, the first time I had ever come across this particular advanced driver assistance system (ADAS).

The incident set me on a train of thought that was probably correct at the time and has only become more acute in recent years: are cars becoming increasingly complex to a level that drivers need some form of training to use them?

The handovers that happen when most drivers are given their new car are functional. They are really just designed to ensure that the vehicle can be driven safely. In some ways, this is good enough - knowing the ins and outs of the 10,000 watt audio system you ticked on the options list does not affect your ability to use the car in a competent manner while understanding the major controls does. 

However, the fact is that the ADAS devices rapidly becoming standard on a wide range of company cars are different because they do affect your driving experience. The first time that the steering wheel rumbles when you drift over a line or the car suddenly brakes when it detects an obstacle in front is unnerving for most drivers. 

Perhaps we are now reaching a point in time when the standard vehicle handover is no longer enough, that some form of more comprehensive on-the-road familiarisation is appropriate. I would be interested in the thoughts of stakeholders such as fleet managers and manufacturers on this matter.

Shaun Sadlier is head of consultancy at Arval