On the 28th and 29th November, Driving for Better Business, in conjunction with the Stop the Crash Partnership ran a series of demonstrations for the latest collision avoidance technology at Thatcham Research’s Upper Heyford proving ground. Some the country’s leading fleet decision makers came to experience for themselves just what this technology does and how it can contribute to reducing collisions and unnecessary damage in their fleets.

Technology such as Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB) systems have been proven to reduce rear-end ‘at-fault’ collisions by up to 38% and third party claims by up to 45% yet many fleet managers are unaware of the benefits. In a survey we conducted earlier this year, less than 11% of businesses insisted on the fitment of AEB to their fleet vehicles. The two main reasons for not doing so were:

  1. Being unfamiliar with the technology and its benefits
  2. The technology wasn’t fitted as standard to their fleet vehicles, being either an extra-cost option or not available at all.

Some of the technologies we demonstrated were ‘City’ AEB which works at low speeds in stop-start traffic, ‘Inter-Urban’ AEB which works at higher speeds, ‘Pedestrian’ AEB which can identify pedestrians crossing the road and apply the brakes to prevent the driver hitting them and ‘Turn Across Path’ AEB which prevents the driver turning in front of an oncoming vehicle. Additionally, we demonstrated emergency lane keeping and adaptive cruise control technology.

After a very welcome hot lunch (It was a cold day!) we learnt how the EuroNCAP star-rating system works and how this will be affected in the future as the technology develops and becomes more commonplace. The key lesson here is that the requirements become more stringent each year and what was a 5-star car a few years ago may not achieve 5 stars today. As we are now seeing many fleets adopt a 5-star only purchasing/leasing strategy, it is important to understand fully what that means in view of the technology fitted as standard.

Finally we ran a Driving for Better Business presentation to talk through the business case for specifying AEB and other technologies on your fleet vehicles, and the potential benefits from dramatically reducing common types of collision such as ‘own-fault’ rear-end shunts.

I’d like to extend our thanks to Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles who supported these events and supplied examples of their Caddy, Transporter and Crafter vans all fitted with AEB for our demonstrations. Volkswagen is the only van manufacturer to understand the common problem regarding fleets being unable to specify, or refusing to pay for, optional extras, and earlier this year made the industry leading announcement that AEB would be fitted as standard to all new vans – a move everyone at Driving for Better Business and Stop the Crash wholeheartedly applaud.

Our delegates were extremely impressed by the demonstrations, and even those that had seen similar demonstrations a few years ago were staggered at how much the technology had progressed.

We are running two more of these events on 20th and 21st March 2018 and you can reserve places here.