ADAS and driver behaviour

We have recently been discussing the advancements of car technology with our clients. That is, the need to include safety features into your car policy and benchmark vehicles. However, there is more to just adding safety features. The link between ADAS and driver behaviour is now in focus.

The last few years have seen some major advancements within the automotive industry. ADAS is key to this. Almost every new vehicle made today contains numerous safety technologies which alert drivers to hazards on the road. As an example, by 2022 every new vehicle model will have to be fitted with Emergency Lane Keeping and with Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB) by 2024.

As with any new technology, regulation needs to be created and updated to adequately manage risk and safeguard drivers. In other industries we have seen regulators struggle to keep up with the rate of technological development, for example appropriate safeguards around social media to protect young and vulnerable people. If ADAS is not managed correctly it can have dangerous consequences on the road, so it’s essential the industry moves quickly to ensure we are doing everything possible to keep drivers safe.

One example of how ADAS regulation can help prevent accidents is through regulation of AEB systems. Many accidents are caused by late braking, either as a result of the driver being distracted, the vehicle in front stopping suddenly or the driver not braking with enough force. AEB systems prevent this by stopping the vehicle independently of the driver.

However, despite the installation of AEB systems being mandatory in new vehicles from 2024 there is no regulation around instructing drivers how to use such systems and it is still possible for drivers to switch them off. AEB is an hugely important system and works as a safety net in the most critical scenarios. While AEB systems should switch themselves back on automatically when the vehicle is next driven, this is not the case for other ADAS functions, like Lane Keep Assist.

The danger here is if someone else uses the vehicle without realising the safety system is switched off, they will be relying on technology which is not even in use. Regulations must be put in place to ensure the driver is unable to switch off these systems.

Understanding Driver behaviour is vital.
distracted driving
AutoPilot engaged – Road Safety Brain disengaged ?

Without initial regulation to control ADAS systems, drivers need to know how to use ADAS technologies correctly and to fully understand their capabilities. Drivers should receive comprehensive instruction on the use and risks of ADAS systems, and training curriculums must evolve in step with their usage.

“Some drivers can spend up to 10 hours a day on the road. ADAS systems that reduce repetitive driving tasks and assist in recognising when drivers are distracted are welcomed. Until fully autonomous vehicles arrive, the driver is still in control at present.”

According to a 2018 survey by US insurance marketplace EverQuote, one in three drivers (33%) believe that semi-autonomous driving technology, such as automated park assist, self-driving autopilot, and lane-departure sensors, makes them safer drivers.

Yet, as with every technological advancement, human behaviour is an essential factor. Over reliance on ADAS can create complacency and, somewhat counter intuitively, increase risk.

This is backed by figures published in December 2019 by the US-based AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, which found that drivers were nearly twice as likely to engage in distracted driving while using ADAS systems compared to without them.

This is a key message. The presence of a particular driver aid system can create a real false sense of security and infallibility – which is a very dangerous state when in control of a fast-moving vehicle. 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.

“Fleet Managers and indeed drivers need to understand the difference between assisted driving and automated driving. If you’re driving a vehicle with a high level of assistance, the customer needs to know they are still responsible for keeping themselves and others around them safe. Driver behaviour is critical to overall driver safety.”

As a fleet responsible, you should address the requirements of driving in today’s vehicles, so that drivers are prepared for semi or full automation. Combine this with the benefits of ADAS and road safety is set to improve for all.

If your company would like assistance with making a business case for investing in ADAS systems starting from an analysis of your accident statistics, or more in general if you want to discuss the advantages and content of a bespoke safety or prevention program, please reach out to us for a chat.

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