Fleet News

Go by the book, drivers warned

DRIVERS should be forced to read the vehicle handbook of a new car before they are allowed to drive off, so that they understand the latest technology they will be using, a meeting of leading executives heard.

A simple skim through the handbook would be enough to give drivers a clear understanding of anti-lock brakes, the latest locking mechanisms and where key safety devices are on modern cars, fleets claim.

Members of the Association of Car Fleet Operators London West meeting heard that one driver complained that under heavy braking, the brake pedal ‘banged’.

It became obvious that the driver was braking so late and so heavily for roundabouts that the anti-lock braking mechanism was intervening.

Anti-lock brakes work by activating and releasing the brakes incredibly quickly, so that the car can be slowed down, while steering control is retained, making the brake pedal judder. The driver had never been told about it.

Other problems could include drivers not knowing where the button is in a new car to activate the hazard lights to warn other drivers of motorway queues. The meeting heard one member call for dealers to do more to train drivers when they handed over the car, by insisting on a full run full of safety and electronic devices.

Dealers present said they would be happy to provide the service and already went out of their way to explain all the controls, but often had to hand over the vehicle to someone who was not the driver.

Furthermore, if a manufacturer was ordered to offer a full training session to drivers of new cars, how would the company explain if it didn’t give the same training to employees receiving pre-owned vehicles, such as models handed back by a departing member of staff that had to be re-assigned.

Fleets commented that it was frustrating the drivers simply weren’t interested in knowing what their cars could do, but when a handbook stretched to 218 pages, they were unlikely to be enthusiastic.

Members heard from one fleet boss, who said: ‘Fleets need to find a way to draw drivers’ attention to this and make drivers buy into the policy.

‘You just have to make drivers aware of the risks and ensure that if they don’t understand something, they read the handbook and find out.’

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