Driver assistance technology and safety features have evolved significantly over the years to make the experience behind the wheel both easier and safer. And while they’re no substitute for careful driving, they can certainly help you avoid a potential crash. Here are some of the most common systems, along with a brief description of what each one does:
Adaptive cruise control
Adaptive cruise control changes your car’s speed when it detects a slower car in front of you. Instead of having to use the brake and turn off the cruise control, it automatically reduces your speed to keep the cruise control on. Many of these systems will also allow you to set a distance to keep between you and the car in front of you, and some will even stop the car completely when necessary.
Active parking assistant
Active Parking Assist uses radar to estimate a parking space and automatically steer the car into it. Depending on the model, this system can be applied for parallel, perpendicular parking or both. Be aware of your surroundings while using Active Park Assist as it can be affected by surrounding objects.
Active head restraints
Active head restraints automatically move in a rear-end collision designed to absorb the force of your head to help mitigate whiplash and injuries.
Automatic emergency stop
Automatic Emergency Braking warns you of a potential collision ahead and will apply the brakes automatically if you don’t react in time and an imminent crash.
Blind spot monitoring
Blind spot systems warn you with an indicator on your side mirrors when there is a vehicle in your blind spot on either side, so you know it’s not safe to reverse. Some systems will also provide a secondary warning if you try to overcorrect when it detects a vehicle in your blind spot.
Forward Collision Warning
Forward Collision Warning detects when a crash is imminent and warns you to apply the brakes immediately. Depending on the model, this system may be available with automatic emergency braking. In either case, take the time to understand when this system is activated so you know how to react quickly.
Lane departure warning
Lane Departure Warning will warn you when it detects that the vehicle is in danger of inadvertently drifting out of the lane markings, so that you straighten the vehicle. This system is sometimes combined with lane keeping assist.
Ribbon Save Assistant
Taking lane departure warning a step further, Lane Keeping Assist will automatically straighten out the vehicle if it starts to drift out of lane markings and you don’t react quickly enough. Some vehicles may warn you when this system is activated, but some will simply straighten the vehicle without providing a notification.
Parking sensors warn you when your vehicle is close to making contact with another vehicle or object. They help you get closer to surrounding objects without touching them to simplify the parking process.
Pedestrian detection systems use cameras to detect pedestrians or cyclists and alert you when they are nearby. Some systems will also automatically stop when they detect a pedestrian in the immediate vicinity.
Rear cross traffic signal
Rear Cross Traffic Alert will notify you when it detects traffic behind the vehicle while it is in reverse. This helps you determine when it is safe to start maneuvering, especially from a spot in a crowded parking lot.
Rear seat reminder
Rear seat reminders warn you that there may be a person, animal or object in the back seat before you exit the vehicle. They will identify when a tailgate opens and closes before driving off, then remind you that there may be something in the backseat when you lock the vehicle. Members of the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers and the Association of Global Automobile Manufacturers have agreed to add rear seat reminders to their entire lineup by 2025