With each passing year, vehicle manufacturers are integrating more Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) into the cars we buy. These systems are designed to improve the safety of drivers and passengers, a clear need given nearly 94% of accidents are caused by driver error according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). So, what are these Advanced Driver Assistance Systems, what do they do, and which system sounds like it would be your favorite?

Many manufacturers have pledged to include Forward Collision Warning (FCW) and Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB) as standard features across most vehicle models by 2022. Forward Collision Warning systems provide the driver with a warning of an imminent collision. These warnings generally include an audible alert as well as a display on the dash. This system is typically coupled with AEB which, in the event of an imminent collision, will apply the brakes or assist the driver’s braking. These two systems are effective in combating rear-end collisions which make up roughly one-third of all motor vehicle accidents.

Sideswipe accidents make up 12% of all accidents, and there are three systems that aim to reduce them. These include Lane Departure Warning (LDW), Lane Keep Assist (LKA) and Blind Spot Warning (BSW). Lane Departure Warning provides an alert to the driver when they drift out of a marked lane. Lane Keep Assist provides small steering corrections when a driver drifts from a lane.  Blind Spot Warning alerts a driver when a vehicle is in his/her blind spot and is often activated when the blinker is engaged to signal a lane change. The Blind Spot Warning is very commonly seen as a yellow or red image inside a mirror or camera display and may provide an audible sound. Unfortunately, some drivers elect to turn off these warnings and then miss out on the safety benefits.

Parking lots present multiple challenges to drivers, particularly when it comes to backing out of a parking space. All too often people fail to look behind them before backing up, or they stop looking too soon and just go for it. Most vehicles now have rear view cameras, which are helpful, but Rear Cross Traffic Alert (RCTA) is an advanced system that provides a warning to drivers when a hazard is approaching while they are in reverse. In some vehicles, these systems are coupled with a braking feature that automatically applies the brakes if a collision is imminent. In some vehicles, parking sensors on the front and rear of the vehicle also provide drivers with a warning if they approach an object while parking.

Hands down, my favorite system is Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC). I have always had a love/hate relationship with driving. I love the freedom that it provides but hate the monotony - especially when sitting in traffic, which is all too common in the Los Angeles area. Cruise control was always helpful to break up the monotony if traffic was light and moving freely. But light traffic patterns in highly populated areas have become less frequent, so adaptive cruise control is the answer for those who frequently find themselves moving in and out of traffic.   This system allows drivers to set a maximum speed, and then adjusts the speed of the vehicle based on traffic patterns while also maintaining a set distance from the vehicle ahead. Some manufacturers have coupled this technology with an active steering system to provide an assisted driving system intended for freeway and highway driving. Adaptive Cruise Control has changed my love/hate relationship with driving, giving me much more of a “love to drive” attitude.

Have you used any of these systems while driving? If so, which is your favorite? If not, which of the Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) do you think would be your favorite? Could it help you love to drive?