Safety is always high on the agenda for fleet operators, but how much pest practice can be put down to adequate training for drivers and the right culture at an organisation and what benefit is there in selecting potentially expensive safety-related options.
We readily accept the benefits of ABS (allowing a car to be steered while braking) and electronic stability control (reducing the risk of skidding out of control) and we now demand them as standard.
But what of other more recent features that when combined can put up the price of the car by several thousand pounds?
Our E220 CDI has a number of items fitted relating to safety. Some are standard on our Executive SE equipment grade, some will be familiar to anyone who has had Mercedes-Benz cars on their fleet, and some are new to the E-Class.
Distronic cruise control has been on Mercedes-Benz options lists for many years, and a radar works with the cruise control to keep a pre-determined distance with the vehicle in front, braking if necessary to create a larger gap, or accelerating up to the limit set with the cruise control.
But here, as part of the driver assistance package, it also features an autonomous emergency braking system.
It sensors detect the risk of a head-on collision, a warning beep alerts the driver, and if the driver doesn’t respond, the car will apply the brakes. I first experienced this within days of taking delivery and it saved me from a low-speed bump that would otherwise have resulted in downtime and expense, and its share of embarrassment.
The pack also includes a blindspot warning system.
Our car also has the lane tracking pack, which monitors lane edges at high speed, and sends a vibration through the steering if the car threatens to cross lanes without indicating, and will even intervene with a gentle nudge in the steering to right the car’s course.
The costs of these items adds up to just over £3,000. Across a fleet that might not be enough to offset the number of incidents the equipment might avoid, but it’s certainly reassuring to have them, and in due course items such as these might become as widespread as ABS and stability control.