More needs to be done to educate drivers on ADAS functions

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According to IAM Roadsmart, a UK-based independent road safety charity, vehicle manufacturers, car dealerships, the DVSA (Driving and Vehicle Standards Agency) and driving instructors should include a comprehensive lesson for motorists on how to use advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS), so they are a road safety benefit and not a potential hazard.

The urgent call has been made following the publication of a report by the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) titled How to maximize the road safety benefits of ADAS.

Some of the most widely known ADAS – many of which will become mandatory in new vehicles from July 2022 – include adaptive cruise control, autonomous emergency braking systems, lane-keeping assist and driver monitoring for drowsiness and distraction recognition. However, awareness and understanding of these systems is generally low among drivers. The FIA’s report found that most users do not receive any training when first encountering ADAS, and instead have to rely on information from a car’s user manual, or more alarmingly, by applying a ‘trial-and-error’ method.

Neil Greig, IAM Roadsmart director of policy and research, commented, “Advanced driver assistance systems have the potential to improve road safety, but only if used correctly. If used incorrectly, not least without a full understanding of what the systems are and are not capable of, they can have the opposite effect, with potentially worrying consequences for all road users.

“IAM Roadsmart therefore believes the time has now come to include a comprehensive lesson from every car dealer supplying vehicles and further, for more about ADAS to be included in the UK driving test. This is crucial as these tools begin to be supplied as standard on an increasing number of vehicles.”

Further recommendations from the FIA report include a comprehensive explanation to end-users of the systems’ limitations, more consistently accurate functioning of ADAS in practice and the introduction of failsafe communications to alert users if any of the systems fail, helping to mitigate any potential road safety risk.

Greig concluded, “There needs to be a much higher emphasis on educating drivers in the best use of technology. Vehicle manufacturers and car dealerships are key, ensuring that when a customer drives off the forecourt they understand and use the various safety systems correctly.”

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Lawrence has been covering engineering subjects – with a focus on motorsport technology – since 2007 and has edited and contributed to a variety of international titles. Currently, he oversees Automotive Powertrain Technology and Professional Motorsport World magazines as editor.

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