Company car and van driver training should take account of Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) and the risks involved in becoming overreliant on the technology.
That’s the warning from DriveTech, which has released the latest in its series of whitepapers focusing on how increasing automation is providing benefits, but also new challenges for drivers and driver training.
ADAS innovations such as driver drowsiness detection, blind spot monitors, collision avoidance systems, and even more familiar technology like antilock braking systems (ABS) or dashcams have been designed to reduce road risk.
However, as with every technological advancement, human behaviour is an essential factor, says DriveTech. Overreliance on ADAS can create complacency and, somewhat counterintuitively, increase risk.
Studies have begun to focus on these risks, with figures showing that drivers who are over reliant on ADAS are two times more likely to engage in ‘distracted driving’ as those who are less likely to use these systems.
Colin Paterson, head of marketing at DriveTech, said: “While overreliance on ADAS is an increasing potential problem for private motorists, one big issue to be considered is the impact on fleet driving.
“With some drivers’ shift patterns resulting in them spending up to 10 hours a day on the road, ADAS systems that reduce repetitive driving tasks and assist in recognising when drivers are distracted or drowsy are a welcome means of support.
“With the ever-increasing race of technical developments moving us towards the era of the autonomous vehicle in the future, the presence of ADAS systems in fleet driving is only set to increase. Ultimately, however, the driver is still in control at present.”
Dr Lisa Dorn of Cranfield University believes it is vital that drivers receive comprehensive instruction on the use and risks of ADAS systems and training must evolve in step with their usage.
She explained: “Our relationship with vehicles and how we drive for work is changing. New technology in vehicles is being introduced with little understanding about its effect on driving at work.
“As automation increases, drivers will have less opportunity to develop their driving skills.
“Studies show that some elements of driving performance are negatively affected when using ADAS due to the way drivers adapt to the assistance offered.”
Dr Dorn says that the challenges of drivers’ behavioural adaptation “represents an opportunity for driver training to step up and deliver new structure and content”.
Training companies that provide fleet driver instruction, such as DriveTech, need to understand the links between driver behaviour, implementation of ADAS systems and the importance of maintaining driving skills, she argues.
“Driver training needs to address the requirements of driving in today’s vehicles, so that drivers are prepared for full automation,” she said.
“How to avoid unwanted behavioural responses must be part of the fleet driver training curriculum if ADAS is to realise its potential to improve road safety.”
For more on DriveTech’s whitepaper, visit https://www.drivetech.co.uk/news-and-resources/adas-attraction-or-distraction.