Driver assistance systems explained

Safety systems are now essential bits of kit for new car buyers. However, many of them have confusing acronyms or bizarre names that don’t explain what they do.

Here, we explain the most common and impressive equipment on offer to help you decide what’s most important for you.

Night vision

This is something of a luxury, being new to mainstream cars, but it’s fascinating technology that can actually be quite useful.

While it debuted on the Mercedes S-Class, it went mainstream with the DS 7 Crossback, displaying a black and white image of the road ahead on the dashboard. Technology can ‘see’ hazards such as animals or pedestrians at the side of the road and flash up a warning.

 

Blind spot warning

Checking your blind spot is an important part of driving that you’re taught early on. However, many modern cars take away any doubt you might have when moving lanes.

They usually work by fitting a flashing orange light in the wing mirror, which illuminates when a car enters the blind spot. It means you can check your mirror and know if there’s a car that might have crept alongside you.

 

Front collision warnings

Most modern cars now come with some kind of sensors in the front that can ‘see’ the road ahead, including other cars, pedestrians and cyclists etc. If the car anticipates a collision, it can flash up a warning.

Depending on the car, the alert will be different, but it usually incorporates a flashing icon on the dashboard or an audible alarm – or both. Some more premium cars might even boost brake input to help avoid a crash.

 

Automatic emergency braking (AEB)

These systems take the forward collision warning system one step further, and will actively work to avoid a crash should it anticipate one.

It does this by sensing the road ahead, and if it anticipates a crash it will apply the brakes. Some can even swerve the car to avoid an obstacle.

 

Parking assist

With parking spaces staying the same size while cars are getting bigger, parking is getting harder all the time.

That’s why manufacturers have been advancing automatic parking to the point where you can press a button and let the car do all the hard work for you. Parallel parking and bay parking can both be undertaken automatically.

 

Lane-keep assist systems (LKAS)

The clue is in the name with this one, but it’s important to keep an eye out for because if you test drive a vehicle and don’t realise this is on, you could wonder why the car keeps adjusting itself.

In its most basic form, LKAS will warn you you’re drifting out of your lane, but some systems will turn the wheel for you to keep you from crossing the white lines.

 

 

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