Clearing the Confusion About Advanced Car-Safety Feature Names
CR is working to standardize terms so that consumers can be certain about what they’re buying
Advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) are becoming more common in new cars. While these features add convenience and safety, their names often confuse car buyers—especially when different automakers use different terms for the same feature. As a result, it can be hard for car shoppers to find the features they want and to compare models.
To address that confusion, Consumer Reports worked with the automotive and auto safety groups AAA, J.D. Power, the National Safety Council, Partners for Automated Vehicle Education (PAVE), and SAE International to develop a list of standardized names designed so that consumers know what they’re getting when shopping for a vehicle. Originally released in 2020, the list has been updated to include technologies such as driver monitoring and lane centering assistance, which are becoming more common on new vehicles. (Download the Clearing the Confusion pdf.)
- Blind spot warning: Detects vehicles in the blind spot while driving and notifies the driver of their presence. Some systems provide an additional warning if the driver activates the turn signal.
- Forward collision warning: Detects a potential collision with a vehicle ahead and alerts the driver. Some systems also provide alerts for pedestrians or other objects.
- Lane departure warning: Monitors a vehicle’s position within the driving lane and alerts the driver as the vehicle approaches or crosses lane markers.
- Parking collision warning: Detects objects close to the vehicle during parking maneuvers and notifies the driver.
- Rear cross traffic warning: Detects vehicles approaching from the side at the rear of the vehicle while in reverse gear and alerts the driver. Some systems also warn of pedestrians or other objects.
- Automatic emergency braking: Detects potential collisions with a vehicle ahead, provides forward collision warning, and automatically brakes to avoid a collision or lessen the severity of impact. Some systems also detect pedestrians or other objects.
- Automatic emergency steering: Detects potential collisions with a vehicle ahead and automatically steers to avoid or lessen the severity of impact. Some systems also detect pedestrians or other objects.
- Lane keeping assistance: Provides steering support to assist the driver in keeping the vehicle in its lane. The system reacts only when the vehicle approaches or crosses a lane line or road edge.
- Reverse automatic emergency braking: Detects potential collisions while in reverse gear and automatically brakes to avoid or lessen the severity of impact. Some systems also detect pedestrians or other objects.
Driving Control Assistance
- Adaptive cruise control: Cruise control that also assists with acceleration and/or braking to maintain a driver-selected gap with the vehicle in front. Some systems can come to a stop and then continue, while others can’t.
- Lane centering assistance: Provides steering support to assist the driver in continuously maintaining the vehicle at or near the center of the lane.
- Active driving assistance: Simultaneous use of lane centering assistance and adaptive cruise control features. The driver must constantly supervise this support feature and maintain responsibility for driving.
- Backup camera: Displays the area behind the vehicle when in reverse gear.
- Surround view camera: Displays the immediate surroundings of some or all sides of the vehicle while stopped or during low-speed maneuvers.
- Active parking assistance: Assists with steering and potentially other functions during parking maneuvers. The driver may be required to accelerate, brake, and/or select gear position. Some systems are capable of parallel and/or perpendicular parking. The driver must constantly supervise this support feature and maintain responsibility for parking.
- Remote parking assistance: Without the driver being inside the vehicle, provides steering, braking, accelerating and/or gear selection while moving a vehicle into or out of a parking space. The driver must constantly supervise this support feature and maintain responsibility for parking.
- Trailer assistance: Assists the driver with visual guidance while backing toward a trailer or during backing maneuvers with a trailer attached. Some systems may provide additional images while driving or backing with a trailer. Some systems may provide steering assistance during backing maneuvers.
- Indirect driver monitoring system: Observes vehicle states, motions and/or driver performance indicators to estimate driver distraction, inattention, or misuse. This may include monitoring steering wheel input, vehicle sway within the lane, or a combination of other factors monitored by the vehicle systems. Some systems may provide a warning to the driver and/or limit the use of other features.
- Direct driver monitoring system: Detects the driver’s eye and/or head movement to estimate where he or she is looking. Some systems may provide a warning to the driver and/or limit the use of other features.
- Driver re-engagement system: A series of escalating warnings and interventions that attempt to engage an unresponsive driver. If the or she doesn’t respond, the system brings the vehicle to a full stop while maintaining steering control. Some systems may steer the vehicle to the side of the road and/or make an emergency call if the driver fails to respond.
Other Driver Assistance Systems
- Automatic high beams: Switches between high- and low-beam headlamps automatically based on lighting and traffic.
- Head-up display: Projects information relevant to driving into the driver’s forward line of sight.
- Night vision: Improves forward visibility at night by projecting enhanced images on the instrument cluster or head-up display.