How Safe Are Your High-Tech Fleet Vehicles?
Industrial Safety and Hygiene News (ISHN) recently published an article that discusses safety considerations for automated fleet vehicles. The article shares insights from a new report published by the American Society of Safety Professionals (ASSP) on Management Practices for the Safe Operation of Partially and Fully Automated Motor Vehicles.
The report provides recommendations on a wide variety of topics, including vehicle acquisition, training, operation, maintenance, and incident reporting. It also identifies key factors that fleet managers need to consider when selecting automated vehicles for their organization.
Kelly Nantel, who serves as the Vice President of Communications and Advocacy for the National Safety Council, helped write the report.
“The reality is that this technology has become increasingly common in helping drivers stay safe on the road,” says Nantel, who is also the chair of the ASSP technical subcommittee that spearheaded the report.
The report was put together by a number of safety experts who have backgrounds in traffic safety, collision avoidance system, risk management, and motor vehicle equipment manufacturing.
Nantel goes on to say that “while the technical report can help any company safely incorporate automated vehicles into their fleets, it’s especially beneficial to those that don’t have expertise in this area.”
So how common are high-tech fleet vehicles anyway?
According to the article from ISHN, more than 90% of new cars sold in the U.S. have at least one advanced driver-assistance system. Examples of such features include adaptive cruise control, automatic parking, and blind spot monitoring.
Automatic emergency braking is also becoming increasingly popular. In fact, 20 different auto manufacturers have committed to equipping all new passenger vehicles with this system by 2022.
Each of these advanced technological features “holds incredible promise for its potential to prevent injuries and save lives,” says Nantel. “But plenty of work remains for the safe development and deployment of automated vehicles on a mass scale.”
The report from ASSP advises safety professionals and fleet managers to consider their operating environment when selecting automated vehicles.
For instance, those who primarily operate on the highway might benefit from lane departure warning systems, whereas fleet vehicles that operate in urban areas may want to prioritize features such as pedestrian collision warning and automatic parallel parking.
Nantel believes the report was published at a critical time for the industry.
“It’s just what a fleet safety professional needs as new policies and procedures are developed.”
That’s because despite the safety benefits of automation, companies still need to adhere to training and regulation requirements regarding safe operation of fleet vehicles. With something that’s so seemingly simple, there will always be risks and hazards associated with driving.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, transportation incidents continue to be the number one cause of fatality in U.S. workplaces.
For that reason, the ASSP report also urges companies to train their drivers on the abilities and limitations of automated vehicles. “It’s important for workers to know what their vehicle is capable of doing, and also what it doesn’t do,” Nantel said.
What else can you do to ensure the safety of your high-tech motor fleet?
The ASSP has also published an article that outlines five critical areas of a safe and effective fleet program. While these areas are not specifically targeted to automated motors vehicles, they nevertheless provide a great starting point:
1) Gain Management Commitment
2) Monitor the Operational Environment
3) Vet and Train Drivers
4) Establish Procedures for Vehicle Acquisition and Maintenance
5) Set Expectations for Incident Reporting
Check out the full ASSP article for more details on how to effectively manage motor vehicle fleet safety.
The bottom line is that drivers should always be alert and on the lookout for hazards of the road.
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