Vehicle design is evolving exponentially in both convenience features and safety devices. Cars are becoming more autonomous in their features every single year.
Maybe you remember your first car that had an anti-lock braking system (ABS). How about your first car that had a rearview camera?
Now we have vehicles that have traction control, electronic stability control, brake assist, object detection monitors and some cars can parallel park themselves or self-drive.
Many of these features can be used passively, meaning the driver doesn't have to deliberately take a step to engage them but does that mean they shouldn't know how they work or what their limitations are?
The Traffic Injury Research Centre conducted a survey in 2014 that found only 69% of Canadians were familiar with ABS, what it is and how it works. The same survey found only 49% understood traction control, 33% electronic stability, and 32% brake assist.
The issue is when people do not understand how safety features work they can become overconfident in their ability to drive safely.
Does autonomous driving mean you can take a nap or watch a movie? No, because what if something fails, these are machines built by humans, they are reliable yes but invincible? No.
If you have four-wheel drive can you stop any faster on ice? No, you may have the ability to get moving more easily and quickly but has very little to no advantage in slowing or stopping your vehicle in icy or slippery conditions.
Does traction control mean I am never at risk of hydroplaning or losing control on ice and should not slow my speed? No, because they are designed to assist you in safely navigating weather and driving conditions, not eliminate them.
If you wear your seatbelt incorrectly are you still safe from injury? No. If the shoulder belt is too close to the neck or too low on your abdomen you are at risk of internal bleeding in addition to physical injuries such as fractures and spinal cord injuries.
If you allow your passenger to put their feet up on an airbag compartment in the dash, will they be safe if a collision happens? No, airbags can deploy with a velocity of 322 km/hour, in a split second basically, the average person takes 3-5 seconds to respond to a spontaneous threat.
When was the last time your dealership educated a client on how their safety systems work and what their limitations are?
When was the last time you educated your employees on safe vehicle operations?
Have you ever held defensive driving workshops for your employees that operate dealership vehicles?
Although we place safety as the main factor in vehicle purchasing, the amount of time we spend learning how the safety features protect us is quite low normally. And because we drive every day we tend to think we understand these features although they have radically changed in the last decade even.
Safety features were originally designed to reduce the harm and damage from a collision. Today they are designed towards collision avoidance.
Some features are passive as mentioned, they are built into the car so the driver does not need to engage them, but many are active which requires the driver to acknowledge the warning and adjust their behaviour.
Rear-end collision warning alarms are an example, if you do not pay attention to them you will still have a collision.
My first car with a rear-end collision warning system, back in the day when this was new technology, I did not know what it did. The first time I heard the alarm I didn't know what it was for, and in my distraction of trying to figure out the source of the noise, I took my eye off the camera to look at my dashboard and backed into another vehicle.
They said don't you have a camera and alarm? I said, yes, I just didn't know what that noise was until now...
If a person drives a new vehicle every two years, they are already interacting with technology that is unfamiliar to them whether they realize it or not at the rate of advancement in this area.
Often we assume people understand these things. We assume people will have the courage to ask for information on how they work, but often they do not want to appear unintelligent. On the other hand, there are people that assume they know enough but sadly end up in collisions.
Now think of your employees, some will drive new models and makes of vehicles almost daily depending on their position.
What is the cost of minor fender benders on your property annually? Has a test drive resulted in an incident or damage to the vehicle? Has a technician ever had a collision with a client's vehicle while testing the vehicle on the road?
This is a great time, as inclement weather approaches, to refresh your employees on your brand's models and features. Seek information from your OEM to share and don't forget to teach your customers the same.
For questions about safe driving, including distracted driving and other services DealerPILOT HR offers it's subscribers, please feel free to reach out to us at email@example.com