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Driver Training – the importance of training drivers to understand vehicle technology

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Risk & Analytics|Corporate Risk Tools and Technology|Risk Management Consulting
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By Andrew Millinship | January 19, 2021

The risk insight talks through the importance of training drivers on the use of safety features and technology on their vehicles.

We are seeing more and more safety technology introduced onto vehicles.

Systems to alert the driver of the presence of other road users, speed limits, automated braking systems and potential collision detection are some examples of the technology currently being implemented and continuously developed.

All this technology will reduce incidents, and this is being seen in statistics from when Autonomous Emergency Braking and Collision Detection Warning systems became a legal requirement to be fitted to HGV’s at the end of 2015.

However, businesses need to ensure their drivers are adequately trained to the right level to understand the limitations and capabilities of this technology.

If we consider new cars, the operating instructions or drivers handbook now run into several hundred pages and so manufacturers point drivers to either a series of intuitive virtual instructions, or a virtual manual available to read on portable devices.

Important elements such as safety features may not be prioritsed as useful knowledge, and so the full capabilities and limitations of the vehicles safety systems may not be known or understood.

Initially, the important information to the driver could be setting the vehicle temperature controls or how to adjust the sat nav or radio or connecting a mobile phone. Important elements such as safety features may not be prioritsed as useful knowledge, and so the full capabilities and limitations of the vehicles safety systems may not be known or understood.

How do we ensure that drivers review documentation to understand the safety features of the vehicle?

This is important as the safety features fitted to a particular manufacturer’s vehicle may work differently to others and as technology is rapidly advancing the capabilities of the features may change as software updates are developed and installed in the vehicle.

This also presents a challenge to the process of new vehicle handover as the presence of documentation only available online may prevent or reduce the fullest of handovers being undertaken.

Drivers need to be encouraged and supported to understand the systems.

It is imperative that a driver understands the capabilities of the safety features fitted in vehicles because presently the fitted technology is a series of driver aids, whereby a safety system is provided to support the driver, although in some cases if the driver does not intervene and take action, the vehicle may apply some corrective action, which could be initiation of a steering or braking manoeuvre. Therefore, the below risks need to be managed

  • The driver may become over reliant on the intervention of a safety system and expect a particular intervention to occur in a particular circumstance. Changing road, weather and traffic conditions may affect the level of intervention a driver aid may provide.
  • The safety system may not work on the particular vehicle in the way the driver was expecting from their experience of other systems
  • The safety system could be defective or incorrectly calibrated which could be an issue as vehicles age and move into the second and third user marketplace.
  • The features of the vehicle have been marketed in a given way leading the driver to believe the system will operate differently to reality

As more and more safety features are introduced we face the challenge of ensuring that drivers understand the capabilities of these features

As more and more safety features are introduced we face the challenge of ensuring that drivers understand the capabilities of these features and until a vehicle is provided that can drive itself in all conditions, drivers must continue to realise their responsibilities and that the safety features provided are driver aids, aids to assist them in their responsibility to be in control of the vehicle at all times.

What can be done? – Training is key

  • Ensure that when a vehicle is added to the fleet that all drivers are adequately trained
  • Organisations should review the adequacy of vehicle handover and training procedures ensuring that adequate information on vehicle technology is provided including purpose, use and limitations. The following should be considered:
    • Lane departure warning systems
    • Collision avoidance systems
    • Emergency braking or steering systems
    • Adaptive cruise control including distance setting
    • Traffic sign recognition if this function can be linked to the speed of the vehicle via a programmable speed limiter system
    • Tyre warning systems
    • Any system that provides automated steering, parking or movement of the vehicle (reminding the driver that these systems are provided solely as driver aids and that control of the vehicle remains the responsibility of driver at all times)
    • Situations when the vehicle will provide the driver physical, visual or audible feedback via the steering wheel, seat or display
    • Any function of the vehicle that can be initiated remotely such as remote parking, locking/unlocking and vehicle pre-heating
    • Recharging system connections, types and use
    • The use of vehicle regenerative braking systems
    • The meaning of safety system warning lights
    • Method of accessing the vehicle handbook
  • Fleet operators should obtain specific training from vehicle manufacturers for their drivers, enabling drivers at first hand to understand and experience the safety features,
  • Drivers should be shown how to ensure the systems can be verified as active and encouragement given to ensure the systems are not switched off, where this option is possible
  • Drivers should be encouraged to read vehicle documentation to understand further the safety features fitted and their capabilities

Organisations may also wish to consider if they should introduce a sign off procedure to demonstrate that the driver following handover has read the appropriate sections of the vehicle manual or received specific training associated with vehicle safety features.

The Transport Risk Management Practice continue to monitor, advise and raise awareness of emerging risks with insight and detailed surveys. Please contact us to discuss the services we can provide.

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Risk Management Executive – Transport Risk

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