Sunday, May 19, 2024

A tool in driver acceptance

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Adoption of advanced driver assistance system (ADAS) technology continues to increase across the commercial vehicle landscape. As it does, and as the technology itself continues to advance, driver education on vehicle safety technologies becomes ever more critical. Fleets that incorporate ADAS technology as part of their fleet safety culture oftentimes require training on how the technologies work, their features, their limitations, and what to expect when driving with them.

Training entails reviewing what the systems will and will not do and how they work; experiencing the technologies in action through a demonstration; and having access to reference tools that allow drivers, technicians, and fleets to reinforce their knowledge and be alerted to updates.

Yet drivers may not always receive as much training as needed on ADAS technologies. When drivers are educated on the systems, they are better able to understand, accept and utilize the technology. Knowledge helps contribute to driver satisfaction. In this way, education on advanced systems can also serve as a tool in driver awareness and acceptance of the technology.

Safety supplement

Driver-assist safety systems, which include forward collision mitigation, have demonstrated the ability to help fleets and drivers potentially mitigate crashes. The systems, however, are no substitute for drivers exercising safe driving practices. These safety systems should be viewed as supplemental to a fleet’s overall safety program.

We can’t emphasize the following point enough when it comes to ADAS technology: Safety technologies, such as those from Bendix, complement safe driving practices. No commercial vehicle safety technology replaces a skilled, alert driver exercising safe driving techniques and proactive, comprehensive driver training. Responsibility for the safe operation of the vehicle remains with the driver at all times.

Fleets are responsible for driver and technician training. Our role at Bendix is to support a fleet’s driver training programs by providing supplemental information and education upon request.

Three-pronged perspective

Commercial vehicles are more complex today. Drivers experience more devices delivering more information through a variety of auditory alerts, lights, dash notifications, and – when applicable – intervention. Potential distractions can ensue if the driver doesn’t understand why a system is doing something. That’s why comprehensive driver training on vehicle technologies is more important than ever.

But just as important is how we educate. At Bendix, we take a three-pronged approach in supporting fleets’ driver training programs: Review the technology, experience the technology, and reference the technology.

Review the technology

Our goal is to present the technology in such a way that drivers can understand why it works the way it does; understand when the technology intervenes and what some of its limitations are; and have the proper awareness to help mitigate the situations that lead to system alerts or interventions.

Bendix provides “driving with” and “overview” videos for drivers, technicians, dealers and fleet safety personnel to see how a production-level vehicle may perform in certain maneuvers. We often used closed tracks to illustrate different scenarios so the audience can get a glimpse into system intervention, as well as major system limitations. The videos show not only the alerts a driver may get, but also potential active braking.

In addition, the videos are backed up by written documents that the driver (operator’s manuals) and the technician (Service Data Sheets) can find on B2Bendix. These important documents cover critical aspects of how the systems work, how to troubleshoot them, and how to understand their operation.

We also use this step to start the process of addressing driver expectations about the technologies and their performance. I have had the privilege of talking with many drivers as part of Bendix’s demos and other training programs. I’ve learned that drivers sometimes incorrectly expect these systems to be infallible and always working in all conditions.

Don’t forget that today’s vehicle systems are driver-assistance – not driver-replacement – technologies. They are not fully autonomous systems. On SAE International’s five-level automation scale (SAE J3016 Levels of Driving Automation) – where Level 0 is no technology and Level 5 is fully driverless under all conditions and on all roadways – the majority of driver-assistance systems on vehicles today are Level 1.

Again, the technologies can aid – but not replace – the driver, who remains fully responsible for operating the vehicle. Tempering expectations regarding system performance and limitations is a critical part of educating drivers.

Experience the technology

Beyond the videos and written documents, nothing can tell the story of system intervention better than attending a live demonstration. Talking about the technologies in presentations, showing videos and taking a ride on the road all have value. But they’re not enough. To better understand how the technology works and what its limitations are, drivers also need to see the technology up close.

How can we make that process happen safely? Get on a test track. That’s why driver education on the systems is part of our regional demos. It’s a vital opportunity to experience firsthand both riding with and, in some cases, driving with the technology in various real-life situations.

A demo, we’ve found over the years, engages the driver more than any presentation. Our demo driver explains each maneuver when underway, as well as the system response to each scenario – helping to answer questions before they get asked. And when drivers are given the opportunity to take the wheel in the demo, they often react before the technology engages. This reaction can indicate the driver is actively managing the situation and not letting the technology become active.

A better understanding of the technology is forged from experiencing it in this way. With that understanding comes better acceptance of the technology and respect for it. Better acceptance means fewer complaints and may lead to safer drivers.

Reference the technology

Being able to connect back to the education – as well as other supporting materials – is important because it helps reinforce the lessons learned while updating the driver as the technology evolves.

Bendix makes a multitude of educational tools available in a variety of forms – from FAQs and service data sheets, all the way to operator’s manuals and driver perspective training videos. Drivers can gain a baseline understanding of the technology through these tools, which will also help them communicate more effectively with technicians if the need arises.

Highly trained drivers are the lifeblood of the commercial vehicle industry. Training for these professionals should not only be on important driving skills but also on the technologies riding with them.

TJ Thomas is Bendix director of marketing and customer solutions – controls group. He is responsible for driving the continued expansion of Bendix’s evolving safety technologies, with a focus on building and maintaining strong customer relations. TJ’s career in the commercial vehicle market spans over 20 years.

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