How safe is safe?

In his latest blog, idverde’s Angus Lindsay considers how reliant we are on technology, especially in our vehicles.

Have you noticed how much technology there is in today’s vehicles? Heads-up display, intuitive audio systems, in-cab cameras, telematics, self-parking, blind spot warning, lane departure, and even autopilot steering systems; the driverless vehicle is closer than we think!

With so much information and safety features available to the driver you would think that accidents and the subsequent aftermath would be a thing of the past, but have we reached the point of an over reliance on technology, where drivers are becoming deskilled and lulled into a false sense of ability? Recent statistics indicate that 97% of all road traffic accidents are due to driver error, and I wonder how many of these are as a result of fiddling with the technology; be it the information system, sat nav, or a total belief that the ABS on their car allows them to tailgate at 80mph on the motorway and still stop safely.

We can fit cameras and tracker systems to our vehicles to monitor our drivers’ behaviour and be comfortable that the technology will protect our drivers and our business, but just look at how much information is coming in. Do we really have the resource to analyse what it’s telling us to such an extent that we can address the rogue driver before they have an accident? The truth is that much of this information is only used after an incident to analyse what happened, or as a defence against somebody else’s bad driving. It may be that the in-cab camera proves that your driver was at fault and, had you been monitoring their behaviour in the weeks leading up to the incident, could you have prevented the accident?

Sat nav

Sat navs are great tools, but don’t always trust the ‘voice in the box’

I’m not criticising technology; personally, I think it is a great boost to road safety, but it should be used in conjunction with back to basics driver induction and hands-on driver training, especially when it comes to putting young drivers used to handling small hatchbacks into 3500kg trucks loaded with kit and five workmates. I do however think that some of today’s technology can be enhanced by previous formats, in particular, sat navs. How many of us totally rely on the voice in the box and don’t even think about checking the route on a map or A-Z, which is now stuffed in the door pocket, or lost in the bowels of the boot? Ignore these at your peril, though, as they could save you a lot of embarrassment, as many lorry drivers will attest.

The main cause of accidents on today’s roads are failure to look properly, exceeding the speed limit, and driving too fast for the conditions. I’m sure we’ve all been guilty of at least one of these, but what of the staff we employ to drive our vehicles? There is no doubt that having a camera and/or a telematics tracker fitted to vehicles can have a positive effect on driver attitude and reduces the type of behaviour that can lead to accidents.

But, beware of complacency from your drivers and, more importantly, yourself. The technology will give you the information, but if you don’t act on it then it might as well not be there. You may also think that by fitting all this technology your insurance premiums will reduce, but this is only the case if it is used as part of an overall risk management programme whose effectiveness is borne out by consistently reducing accidents. The basic skill of driving has not changed. Technology has made it easier, but beware of falling into an unconscious state of safety.

 

Angus’s blog article is also published in the January 2017 issue of Pro Landscaper magazine.