Over half of fleet managers would not be comfortable if their drivers started using driver assistance systems, which have just been introduced on UK motorways.
In a poll conducted by Fleet News, 55% of respondents said they were wary of their employees using the hands-free technology, widely known as ‘driverless’. Ford’s BlueCruise system was approved by the Department for Transport in April, and allows drivers to take their hands off the wheel for limited periods. BlueCruise is currently only available on Ford’s Mustang Mach-E model.
BlueCruise can be activated on 2,300 miles of pre-mapped motorways in England, Scotland and Wales. The stretches of roads, known as ‘Blue Zones’, have been specially selected for the system. They monitor road markings, speed signs and evolving traffic conditions to control steering, acceleration, braking, lane positioning and distances to vehicles ahead.
Drivers using the BlueCruise system must remain attentive at all times and are continually monitored by an infrared camera. If the system detects the driver being inattentive, a warning message is displayed on the instrument cluster, followed by audible alerts, brake activations, and finally slowing of the vehicle. Similar actions are performed if the driver fails to place their hands back on the steering wheel when leaving a Blue Zone.
“Any form of technology which means a driver, through ignorance more than anything, thinks that they don’t need to do something is scary for us as fleet operators”, said Paul Hollick, chair of the Association of Fleet Professionals (AFP). “From a fleet management perspective, I think it’s just scary. Drivers still need to drive, and drivers still need to be the centre of everything.”
Driver assistance systems like BlueCruise rely on driver monitoring technology inside vehicles, which monitor for driver fatigue and distraction. In another recent poll, 70% of respondents thought that driver monitoring systems would improve road safety and reduce road accidents.