Advanced Safety Systems: What Are They All About?

Trying to navigate car safety systems can feel like learning a new language. What are they all about? What do you vitally need, and what is a nice extra? The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, National Highway Safety Traffic Administration, and Consumer Reports evaluate safety features. Let’s take a look at advanced safety systems so you can decide what’s important for you. 

Both the insurance Institute for Highway Safety and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration test cars and their safety systems. Consumer reports ties all of these readings together nicely in an easy to find chart. These are the advanced safety systems Consumer Reports says are important:

A red 2021 Ford Expedition. The Expedition is slightly safer than its luxury counterpart, the 2021 Lincoln Navigator.
2021 Ford Expedition | Ford

Technology which keeps you from hitting things in front of you

RELATED: Are Bigger Cars Safer? The IIHS Weighs In

Forward collision warning (FCW): Forward collision warning can detect a potential collision and alert the driver. Vehicles can use cameras, lidar and also radar to do this. Different FCW systems alert the driver at different increments before collision, so it’s worth being aware of the system you’re looking at.

Forward collision warning is becoming more common, and by 2022 twenty car manufacturers have vowed to make it a standard in all of their vehicles. 

In conjunction with forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking can pre-charge the brakes once it detects a potential collision. Some AEB systems even apply the brakes for you if you don’t respond to the warning in time. The IIHS found that AEB and FCW reduced rear-end collisions by half. 

City automatic emergency braking (CAEB): This means that the vehicle will apply brakes automatically to avoid a collision at a city speed. 

High-speed automatic emergency braking (HAEB): Same as city automatic emergency braking, but at highway speeds. 

Pedestrian detection (PD): Pedestrian detection can detect pedestrians, and some can detect cyclists. PD uses sensors, cameras, and algorithms to determine whether there is a pedestrian in (or about to be in) the path of the vehicle. 

Adaptive cruise control (ACC): Cruise control got an overhaul with ACC, which can keep a vehicle a safe distance from vehicles in front of it. 

Safety systems that keep you in your lane

Lane departure warning (LDW): Lane departure warning uses cameras to monitor the vehicles position between road lines. If the cameras determine that the vehicle is straying across the lines and doesn’t have its turn signal on, it will alert the driver. 

Lane keeping assistance (LKA): Some LDW systems will slightly adjust the car to keep it from crossing into other lanes. 

Lane centering assistance (LCA): Similar to LDW and LKA, lane centering assistance keeps you in your lane. 

There are even advanced safety systems to keep you from hitting things behind you

Blind spot warning (BSW): Blind spot systems monitor blind spots. They alert the driver if a car is moving into their blind spot. Usually the driver is signaled via a signal on or near the side mirrors. If the driver puts on the car’s directional when there is a car in their blind spot, the vehicle may send the driver an alert.

Rear cross traffic warning (RCTW): Additionally, when a car is in reverse, rear cross traffic warning will alert the driver of cars approaching the side and rear of the vehicle. 

Rear automatic emergency braking (RAEB): When rear cross traffic warning detects a potential collision while a vehicle is in reverse, rear automatic emergency braking will put on brakes automatically.  

New cars are coming with more advanced safety systems

Car manufacturers have recognized the consumer demand for advanced safety systems. They’re responding by improving safety features. Also, they’re making advanced safety systems standard in more models and trims of cars.