Venson says fleet managers need to be prepared for an autonomous future
August 25, 2022 – Self-driving vehicles could be on Britain’s roads as soon as next year, after the Government announced plans to allow cars, coaches and lorries with self-driving features to be used legally on motorways. By 2025, pilots of autonomous vehicles will even be allowed to check emails or watch TV whilst behind the wheel, a move unanimously condemned by UK’s motorists according to the latest survey conducted by Venson Automotive Solutions.
Although the Government’s full legal framework for ‘self-driving’ vehicles won’t be in place for another three years, Venson is encouraging fleet managers and business owners to consider education and driver training to ensure employees fully understand how to utilise and maximise the functions and benefits of autonomous vehicles. They also need to be reviewing company car and commercial vehicle fleet policies to avoid misunderstandings relating to liability and responsibility.
Venson’s research revealed motorists are generally sceptical about the safety of self-driving technology, particularly the risks associated with distracting the vehicle’s pilot. Only 5% believed it to be perfectly acceptable for the pilot to be able to watch a film whilst on the road, just 2% thought it was ‘okay’ to review and use social media, and 9% agreed with viewing content that is not related to driving.
Alison Bell, Operations Director for Venson Automotive Solutions, comments, “Whilst fully self-drive vehicles are not yet legal in the UK, some vehicles do have semi-autonomy with advanced driver assistance (ADS) technology. By law, drivers of these vehicles must be in control at all times, so it is vital they fully understand the functionality of the technology and what the vehicle is capable of doing before they take to the road.
“For businesses with company car and van fleets, as well as those allowing employees to use private cars for business use, it is imperative they ensure they update their HR and fleet policies to address rapidly changing laws. For example, drink driving after the staff Christmas party will be for most businesses a disciplinary offence but where will the self-drive laws stand on this in the future?
“Whilst it is hoped autonomous vehicle technology will improve road safety and business efficiencies, there is still a long way to go before its impact will be truly understood. Whatever the future holds, self-drive cars are a growing and changing sector, so it’s imperative fleet managers and business owners are on top of the latest developments and adapt policies accordingly.”