Driver aids could harm safety, fleet managers believe
04 August 2020
Author: Sean Keywood
A majority of fleet managers believe that driver aids such as parking sensors could in fact be detrimental to road safety, due to the risk of 'de-skilling' drivers that come to rely on them.
That's according to insurer Allianz, which carried out a survey of 100 fleet managers for a new report on the profession, and has warned that clear road safety benefits of driver aids should not be overlooked.
It found that more 70% either agreed or strongly agreed that technologies such as parking sensors de-skill drivers to the detriment of driver safety.
This is despite more than 90% of accidents being the result of human error, and indeed 53% of managers thinking that autonomous vehicles could deliver road safety benefits, although 35% think that if they become more commonplace insurance premiums will increase.
In the report, entitled 'Fleet managers: The pressures, challenges and opportunities', it is revealed that only 14% of managers disagreed with the view that technology such as parking sensors de-skilled drivers.
The report goes on to state that despite managers' concerns, many driver assistance systems have the capability to reduce the risk of accidents, with Thatcham Research describing autonomous emergency braking as probably the most important car safety development since the seat belt, with the potential to save more than 1,000 lives in the UK over the next decade.
The report warns that the suggested potential for driver de-skilling is a 'misconception' that the insurance industry and manufacturers need to address, making sure fleet managers have the right information to decide how driver assistance technologies will benefit their business.
Allianz head of motor Gerry Ross (pictured) said: "With all these technologies, the driver is still responsible and in control of the vehicle. The risk of misuse is relatively low.
"As our roads and the vehicles using them change over the next decade these technological advances need to be used appropriately.
"Fleet managers need to ensure that their drivers understand the capabilities of the vehicles to maximise the benefits the additional safety features bring.
"It's important that fleet drivers use the available technology to their advantage to supplement their professional skills."
One piece of technology that managers have a favourable view of is dash cams, which more than half of those surveyed said were effective.
Allianz agrees that these are a powerful tool for improving driver behaviour, although it says fleet managers need to be clear about the safety benefits to avoid a backlash from drivers unwilling to be monitored.
When it comes to fleets' vehicle choice priorities, 71% of managers surveyed said the cost of repairing vehicles influenced their selection, while 56% said protecting the environment was a factor.
In terms of driver management, 78% of managers surveyed feel they are able to give their drivers the support and training needed to help them drive more safely.
However, 70% said they would like to spend more time exploring the support that is available to them.
Ross said: "Insurers and brokers are a great source of risk management information and support. As well as providing advice to reduce risk, they can analyse claims data to help fleet managers prioritise where they should take action.
"Given the changes and opportunities ahead, it's essential that fleet managers, brokers, insurers and vehicle manufacturers work together.
"By sharing knowledge, experience and insight it will ensure that fleet managers are able to minimise the risks and maximise the benefits for their fleets, their drivers and other road users."