News Car Tech

Safety Groups Want to Standardize Names for Driver Assistance Technology

Automakers tend to use fancy proprietary names for new features that can confuse buyers.
Josh Condon/TheDrive

A coalition of driver safety advocates has called for standardizing the names of driver assist technologies, as covered by Consumer Reports.

Advanced Driver Assistance Systems, or (ADAS), have become commonplace in the automotive industry. However, the group contends that consumers are confused by differences in names and terminology across manufacturers. The organizations involved are AAA, J.D. Power, the National Safety Council, PAVE, SAE International, and Consumer Reports itself.

Automakers often use their own unique names for new features as a marketing tactic. For example, Mazda refers to its automatic emergency braking system as “Smart City Brake Assist,” while Mercedes calls theirs “Active Brake Assist.” It’s a perplexing situation for consumers trying to understand new features on modern cars.

To solve the issue, the group has proposed a simple common naming system for driver assistance systems. It aims to clearly define the functions available with a given system. It also highlights that these systems are there to assist, not take over the driving task entirely.

The one-page document outlines names for features that have become commonplace in the last decade. The names are clear, straightforward, and free of excess marketing zing.

It’s easy to understand the difference between “Forward Collision Warning” and “Automatic Emergency Braking.” One will sound an alarm, while the other will automatically activate the brakes in an emergency. It’s much easier than trying to understand what Toyota means by “Pre-Collision Safety System,” or what you get with Subaru “EyeSight.”

There are some areas where the naming system isn’t perfect. For example, some Adaptive Cruise Control systems can come to a complete stop, while others can’t. Where necessary, though, these gaps are outlined.

Perhaps the most controversial are driving assist systems like GM’s Super Cruise and Tesla’s boldly-named Autopilot. The document names these as “Active Driving Assistance” systems. The definition lists these as “simultaneous use of Lane Centering Assistance and Adaptive Cruise Control” features, which may be an oversimplification. Importantly, though, it notes that constant supervision is necessary, highlighting that drivers remain responsible for controlling the vehicle.

Having a clear set of definitions for driver assists should help consumers better understand what they’re shopping for. With automakers insisting on using all kinds of weird and wacky names for their technology, a bit of clarity can only be a good thing. If the coalition gets its way, these names will be adopted by automakers and regulators going forward.

Got a tip? Let the author know: