Reading, Seeing, Doing
As vehicles become more sophisticated with advanced driver assist systems (ADAS), drivers are falling further behind in understanding how these systems perform, or even worse, have ill-conceived notions of how these systems function. In hindsight it seems, the better the technology becomes; the worse drivers get. However, we can’t be that surprised knowing how little training most individuals have received on this topic. Safety researchers continue to issue warnings about the lack of training and because of this, repeatedly emphasize how ADAS will never live up to its full potential.
The University of Iowa was commissioned by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety to survey drivers who’ve recently purchased vehicles with ADAS technologies. Researchers evaluated drivers’ knowledge and found that most did not know or understand the limitations of the systems:
- 80 percent did not know the limitations of blind spot monitoring. To make matters worse, they incorrectly believed that the systems could monitor the road behind the vehicle or reliably detect bicycles, pedestrians and vehicles passing at high speeds.
- Nearly 40 percent of drivers did not know the limitations of forward collision warning and incorrectly reported that this safety feature could apply the brakes in the case of an emergency. Yet, the technology is only designed to deliver a warning signal.
- Moreover, roughly one in six vehicle owners in the survey reported that they did not know whether or not their vehicle was equipped with automatic emergency braking.
While that’s concerning, the study also highlighted how inaccurate expectations for ADAS systems can easily lead to misuse or an increase in driver distraction:
- About 25 percent of drivers using blind spot monitoring or rear cross traffic alert systems reported feeling comfortable relying solely on the systems and felt they did not need to perform visual checks for oncoming traffic or pedestrians.
- About 25 percent of vehicle owners using forward collision warning or lane departure warning systems reported feeling comfortable engaging in other tasks while driving.
These findings are a wakeup call for fleet safety operators to focus on the importance of educating drivers about how safety technologies work. Jake Nelson, AAA Director of Traffic Safety Advocacy and Research, commented, “AAA also urges drivers to take charge of learning their vehicle technology’s functions and limitations in order to improve safety on the road. The training drivers need to properly use the safety technologies in their vehicles is not currently offered.”
Fleet operators can no longer ignore including this critical step of training in their process – it’s not a nice to have, it’s a must-have. To reduce misuse or overreliance on the systems and create an effective training process, AAA offers a simple approach to get started: Reading, Seeing, Doing, which aligns with how adults process, learn and retain new information.
It’s right in their glove compartment - the holy grail of information; the owner’s manual. Encourage drivers to read the owner’s manual to learn what systems are installed in their vehicles, familiarize themselves with the specific functionality of each and then test their knowledge. It might sound too simple of a task, but it’s one that can really make a difference in driver performance.
Provide drivers with access to training videos or instructor-led virtual training. If you don’t have a training provider already lined up, YouTube hosts millions of videos so, it’s likely that the car company/brand of your fleet vehicles each has its own videos which are readily accessible and can be shared. Or, what’s even better to ensure compliance and credibility of the content, work with an established training provider to offer your drivers instructor-led virtual training. It will allow your drivers to see the different components of the tools and how they should be used in real-life driving scenarios. It’s an investment worth making.
Enroll your drivers in hands-on, behind-the-wheel training exercises so they can experience first-hand the applications of the ADAS safety features in a safe, controlled environment to effectively learn how to properly use the technology. This option allows your drivers to learn about the vehicle technology and also serves as a great refresher of proper, safe driving behaviors.
Use these actions to solidify your own company’s safety plan around ADAS. It’s a simple process to adopt. And, as part of this three-step process, encourage drivers to ask questions about the alerts, functions, capabilities, and limitations of the vehicle’s safety technologies.
The best safety system in any vehicle is a properly trained driver and training doesn’t have to be difficult. It can be as simple as reading, seeing, and doing. Don’t wait to see the ROI of your ADAS investment go down the drain because of preventable crashes due to misuse. Get ahead of the problem, set the standard, and see your organization exceed its safety goals.