Some of the most extraordinary innovations conceived in the automotive space, advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS), in essence, are designed to assist in driving vehicles and could substantially enhance the car and overall road safety, with the help of effective human-machine interfaces (HMIs). Technical specifications of a vehicle usually provide information on every ADAS feature integrated within, including sensors that can discern blind spots, road conditions, lane change and collision probability, proving to be highly beneficial in potentially volatile situations.
However, what remains to be taken note of, is whether drivers today actually understand the benefits and limitations of these features well enough. Whether they are provided adequate training for utilizing current systems and prepared for when they operate it in real-life situations is a topic that has been in debate for quite a while now.
Until a couple of years ago, a large number of car buyers were not even aware of the availability of ADAS technology. A survey conducted on 4,500 buyers across the U.S., China, Germany, Japan and South Korea had shown that most customers did not have knowledge about ADAS features, while very few bought vehicles equipped with this technology. Industry experts attribute the lack of familiarity to the sales and training divisions of automakers and dealers, calling for the establishment of proper guidelines to address this issue before marketing new cars with ADAS technology.
The need for improving traffic safety can be understood from the fact that in the U.S., over 37,400 people died from traffic accidents in 2016, which was a notable increase from the previous year. Studies have shown that today’s ADAS technology can potentially lower traffic crash fatalities by about 30 percent and avoid up to 40 percent of all car accidents. The autonomous emergency braking (AEB) function, for instance, identifies critical situations and applies brakes to avoid or mitigate the accident. Further, the forward collision warning (FCW) systems actively alert a driver in case of an imminent collision or when a vehicle comes too close.
Low key but important features, such as turn assist and blind spot monitoring, are soon to become quite common in small and budget cars as well. The turn assist function warns a driver of the oncoming traffic while crossing the road and can even apply brakes automatically to avoid a crash. As evident, ADAS technology can tremendously cut down traffic accidents and people need to be educated about safety functions more often, to ensure the technology meets its intended mark.
Lack of ADAS Knowledge and Training
Increasingly, car owners are recognizing the advantages of ADAS and are ready to shell out the extra few hundred dollars it costs. They are also expressing the need for better demonstrations on how to use the system. Recently, a research conducted by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety revealed that approximately 80 percent of U.S. drivers with vehicles equipped with the blind spot monitoring function were not mindful about its limitations or had misconceptions regarding its ability.
The long and short of it, basically, is that this particular feature only detects vehicles in a driver’s blind spot and many systems today cannot distinguish cyclists and pedestrians accurately. The same reports indicated that 40 percent of people did not know the limits of AEB and FCW, with many confusing the functionality of the two features. This level of unawareness about a critical technology can result in its misuse or even over-reliance on it, causing fatal mishaps.
Need and Current State of ADAS Sales and Training
Some vehicle manufacturers have implemented training programs associated with ADAS across their dealership network, aiming to teach staff how to show the technology to customers. Organizations have highlighted the problems like age and language barriers that can hinder the learning process, with a growing number of ADAS features distracting motorists, demanding individual training.
A possible space to incorporate training for the technology is in the sales area. Drivers can be offered training by personnel who are not only trained to sell but also to teach. A sales pitch can have a remarkable effect on a customer, signifying the influence of a salesperson, which can then be used to train a more attentive customer thoroughly, after he or she has bought a vehicle. Apart from proving to be a strong retention tool, ADAS training could also create job opportunities by hiring specialized staff if dealers do not wish to burden their salesperson.
In countries like Germany where some customers can pick up their new vehicles directly from the factory, there are considerable prospects for making the customer familiarize themselves with ADAS and provide training. A key challenge is managing the ability of a driver and the friendliness of HMIs, as some people could adapt quickly to the multitude of warnings they get in a car while for others it can be a nuisance and the root cause of an accident.
Perhaps the strongest indication of the need for ADAS training is autonomous driving, a subject that is gaining immense traction in recent times and extends the focus on the limits of the technology. It has shifted the emphasis of driver training from making people more skilled in driving to making them more used to automobile technology and their limitations.
Revolutions in legislative norms are also influencing the development of more co-operative driving systems, strengthening the need to impart intensive training for ADAS features currently in use.