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Preparing Your Fleet for Automated Vehicles

Posted on by Stephanie Pratt, PhD, and Rebecca Olsavsky, MS
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Many of us already drive personal or company vehicles with automated features such as lane departure warning and automatic emergency braking. While automation clearly improves safety, it also presents new issues for safety professionals. Companies need to integrate policies on vehicles with automated features into their current fleet safety management systems. They also need to consider how they’ll manage the more highly-automated vehicles that will be available in the future.

To help safety professionals address these challenges, the American Society of Safety Professionals (ASSP) published the ANSI/ASSP Z15.3 technical report, Management Practices for the Safe Operation of Partially and Fully Automated Vehicles. The report provides guidance for companies to help their workers stay safe on the road as technology advances, and to think ahead to what fully-automated vehicles – true “self-driving” cars – will mean for their fleet safety management practices. The Z15.3 technical report supplements the ANSI/ASSP Z15.1 – 2017 standard, Safe Practices for Motor Vehicle Operations, which remains the comprehensive fleet safety management standard for the nation. NIOSH was a major contributor to the Z15.3 technical report, and is also represented on the Z15.1 standards committee.

 

Safer vehicles are available now

Many vehicles on the market are equipped with advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS), many of which show clear safety benefits. Some ADAS detect traffic hazards or potential collisions and warn the driver, while others can take momentary control of the vehicle’s steering, braking, or acceleration to prevent a collision. One example of ADAS is adaptive cruise control, which adjusts cruise speed if your vehicle gets too close to the vehicle in front of it. Remember: ADAS can only control certain vehicle functions, and only when a problem arises. Vehicles with ADAS are never “self-driving.” The human driver is always responsible for monitoring the road and controlling the vehicle.

 

Company drivers need to understand automated safety features

Workers who drive company cars with ADAS may have personal vehicles with no automation at all, so it’s important for them to understand what to expect from ADAS. There’s a big difference between forward collision warning (FCW), which warns that your vehicle is getting too close to the vehicle in front of it, and automatic emergency braking, which takes the information from FCW and applies the brakes to prevent a collision.

As with any workplace safety issue, the employer and worker each have responsibility for safe operation of vehicles with automated features. The employer is responsible for keeping vehicles in safe operating condition and training drivers to understand the capabilities of automated features on the vehicle they’re about to drive – what these features can and cannot do. On the other hand, drivers are responsible for following all company policies related to use of vehicles with automated features and to seek more information about how the technologies operate if they’re uncertain. Mycardoeswhat.org is a great source of information on how different ADAS features operate.

 

Companies need to be aware of changes to laws and regulations as automation progresses

As vehicle automation advances, some states may require a special license endorsement to operate a highly-automated vehicle. There could be changes to commercial driver’s license requirements for truck and bus drivers. There will undoubtedly be questions about data collected by automated driving systems and liability. Who owns these data and who should have access to it if there’s a collision? Should there be standards for consistent data collection across all manufacturers? Who’s liable if there’s a collision? Is it the vehicle manufacturer, the technology developer, the driver, the employer, or some combination of these? We can’t predict how these questions might be resolved; it may be through regulation or through litigation.

 

Self-driving vehicles hold great promise, but company policies will have to keep up

Self-driving vehicles are expected to greatly reduce crashes and injuries by eliminating human error, which is implicated in over 90% of crashes. Although the technology is now being tested, it will be many years ‒ even decades ‒ before self-driving vehicles become commonplace. But, as the technology advances, company safety policies will need to keep up with those advances. For example, it will be important to have procedures to maintain and update complex automated-driving software according to manufacturers’ specifications, and to be sure that workers understand how updates to their vehicles will work. Also, if there is a collision – and there will continue to be collisions – post-collision reviews should analyze data elements related to performance of the automated driving system.

 

The bottom line: Take advantage of ADAS-equipped vehicles now on the market, and prepare for self-driving vehicles

Vehicles with ADAS are in our fleets now. It’s time for fleet safety managers to review their processes to make sure they’re getting the most benefit out of these life-saving technologies. The Z15.3 technical report can help with this. It’s important to recognize that in spite of all the hype, self-driving vehicles are many years away, and even then, they won’t necessarily be the magic bullet that will eliminate all crashes or crash-related injuries. Fleet safety management may look different when self-driving vehicles are widely available, but companies will always need policies to protect workers who drive on the job.

 

Stephanie Pratt, PhD, is a Research Health Scientist in the NIOSH Division of Safety Research and NIOSH Center for Motor Vehicle Safety. She is Vice-Chair of the ANSI/ASSP Z15.1 fleet safety standard committee and a member of the ANSI/ASSP Z15.3 subcommittee on automated vehicles.

Rebecca Olsavsky, MS, is a Health Communication Specialist in the NIOSH Division of Safety Research, supporting the NIOSH Center for Motor Vehicle Safety.

 

Posted on by Stephanie Pratt, PhD, and Rebecca Olsavsky, MS

6 comments on “Preparing Your Fleet for Automated Vehicles”

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    Self-driving vehicles are not safe. At least one has already been the cause of a fatal collision. Vehicle production particularly in USA has been fraught with defective, death producing faults. You now propose this will change when auto-drive is commonplace, when computers crash as a matter of common-place and airplanes controlled by computers have killed many thousands of passengers owing to computer faults.

    The introduction from Centre of Disease Control and Prevention includes “Companies need to integrate policies”….Dr Pratt and (Prof?) Olsavsky continue this misused theme. The commonly misconceived ‘ X’ needs to do “Y”, is in fact ‘WE say “We” think they should/must. Companies have no need to do these things at all. They may have obligations, they may be prosecutable, they may have insurance demands which cause them to take-on , evade, shirk or provide disingenuous statements, but the only ‘need’ they have is generally to profit from production and advertising. Tis fine sounding concept “Self-driving vehicles are expected to greatly reduce crashes and injuries by eliminating human error, which is implicated in over 90% of crashes” does not hold-up when taken apart, however I will challenge the authors to do that rather than offer the support they are doing for automated vehicles , albeit herein stated with reasonably well disguised circumspection.

    The concluding paragraph is more honest and indicative of the reality. The crashes in airplanes put into autopilot finding pilots incompetent in taking over or being accurately directed when in ‘manual’ mode is a stark indicator of the destruction which will follow this system. Yes, one would hope, one might even believe using shallow thinking, that greater road safety will occur but indications are that it will not.

    There remains also the sure fact that some people will ‘hot-rod’ their auto-driven vehicles…they have been modifying computer controls across decades. As well component failures and mechanical failures which will lead to incidents including major casualties will occur, that’s an unavoidable reality. Car thieves will learn to overcome safety and anti-theft systems, assisted by skilled technicians…just as today for example scientists and chemists ‘criminally’ design and create and produce the drugs which are cause of havoc and IT specialists engage in computer crime, dark web manifestation and internet misinformation.

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