3 Ways to Simplify ADAS (Advanced Driver Assistance Systems) for Drivers, According to Consumer Reports

Many drivers are familiar with ADAS, or Advanced Driver Assistance Systems. These systems can include Adaptive Cruise Control and Lane Departure Warning, to name a couple. There is no doubt that these systems are helpful and do increase car safety when used correctly. However, these features can sometimes be confusing and overcomplicated for the driver, especially when the vehicle takes control away from the driver unexpectedly or when different noises or warnings start randomly sounding off. Consumer Reports heard the complaints and created a guide with three ways to simplify ADAS in your vehicle. 

Drivers have something to say about ADAS

The driver's display of the 2023 Kia Telluride which presents menus and ADAS safety feature information
The driver’s display of the 2023 Kia Telluride | Kia America

Consumer Reports heard the concerns of drivers regarding ADAS and wanted to know more. The 2021 ADAS Survey of CR members heard from owners of more than 35,000 vehicles. The owners were allowed to share their insights on their understanding of and satisfaction with ADAS features and how often they utilized them. The survey also contained information from CR’s market-wide testing of these features. The auto experts at CR are exceptionally qualified to offer feedback due to evaluating these systems as part of their extensive road tests.  

Kelly Funkhouser, the Manager of Vehicle Technology for Consumer Reports, said about the report, “We want to help automakers develop and implement ADAS that promote increased driver understanding, acceptance, and satisfaction with these systems so that more drivers will use them and benefit from the safety they provide.” 

The survey was shared with automakers, policymakers, and auto safety organizations. These guidelines provided by Consumer Reports show what the experts deem to be the best design, functionality, and performance characteristics of ADAS. 

1. Drivers want more adjustability 

The survey responses revealed that drivers would prefer ADAS features that allow for more customization. This could include adjusting the acceleration and deceleration levels of the Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC). Drivers would like to change how quickly a lane-keeping or lane-departure system intervenes with the driver. Being able to choose the type of warning given is also a popular request. These warnings can include a beeping chime, steering-wheel vibration, or a steering-wheel tug.

About adjustability, Funkhouser said, “Frequent false alarms or annoying beeps can be minimized, or eliminated, by allowing the driver to make sensitivity adjustments. And the type of alert should also be capable to being tailored to the driver’s preference.”

2. Drivers want more in-car explanations

Drivers want the ADAS features to be easier to understand. This could be done with displays and warnings within the driver’s instrument cluster explaining what’s happening, such as why a feature suddenly disables itself or didn’t activate at all. There can be multiple reasons why these features behave this way, but it would be helpful for the driver to know when something is happening (and what that is). Not understanding what’s happening has led to some drivers disabling the system completely. One suggested solution is a small callout of text within the infotainment system. 

Funkhouser explains, “Consumers seek out ADAS features that promise improved safety and convenience when they are shopping for new vehicles…if they don’t understand what the feature is supposed to do, how it works, or even how to turn it on or off, they may not use the feature after they buy the vehicle.”

3. Drivers want a consistent ADAS naming system 

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Automakers have many names and symbols for their new driver assist systems. Unfortunately, they are inconsistent between advertisements, owner’s manuals, in-car menus and displays, and more. This lack of consistency can be confusing to drivers.

Consumer Reports and other organizations have called on automakers to standardize their ADAS terminology to reduce driver confusion. Some of the agreed-upon terms are Forward Collision Warning (FCW), Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB), Lane Departure Warning (LDW), Lane Centering Assistance (LCA), Lane Keeping Assistance (LKA), and Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC).  

Adopting these terms will help alleviate driver confusion when shopping for a new vehicle or using the driver assistance menu within the car. Less confusion will mean more regular usage of these features and, in turn, fewer road accidents.