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Consumer Reports Releases Guidelines for Designing Advanced Driver Assist System Controls

ADAS Systems can save lives only if they are understood and used by the consumers

Consumer Reports today is providing detailed guidelines to car manufacturers to help them design the controls and displays of advanced driver assist systems to promote consumer use, understanding, and satisfaction. 

Advanced driver assist systems, or ADAS, can help make driving easier and safer, but interface problems often prevent consumers from experiencing any of the benefits. These new guidelines from CR are based on extensive analysis of the current automotive market and consumer research on which systems are more likely to be used and liked by owners.

Consumer Reports is sharing the report with automakers, policymakers, and auto safety organizations.

Below are some of the highlights of the detailed guidelines in the new report “Consumer Reports’ Guide to ADAS Usability,” which is available online here.


Clear the confusion

Manufacturers use a dizzying array of names and symbols for their new driver assist systems and are not always consistent between their advertisements, manuals, buttons, displays, and in-car menus. This makes knowing what system is operating, what it is doing, and how to adjust it confusing. Consumer Reports has worked with AAA, J.D. Power, National Safety Council, Partners for Automated Vehicle Education, and the Society of Automotive Engineers to provide standardized naming conventions. Some of the systems covered in the guidelines include: 

                                                      Acceleration and braking assistance       

Collision Warnings:                  FCW- Forward Collision Warning

Collision Interventions:            AEB– Automatic Emergency Braking        

Driving Control Assistance:     ACC- Adaptive Cruise Control                    



                                                      Steering assistance

Collision Warnings:                   LDW– Lane Departure Warning

Collision Interventions:            LKA– Lane Keeping Assistance

Driving Control Assistance:     LCA– Lane Centering Assistance




Prevent audio and visual overload

As consumers are faced with many new features, they are confronted with beeps and alerts that will not help them if they don’t know what they are for. Displays, dashboards, and steering wheels have become cluttered with unrecognizable symbols. The guidelines demonstrate best practices to make sure consumers know how to interface with these systems and understand alerts.


Adjustments can prevent disabling systems

Frustration with a system can lead to a consumer disabling it and not getting any of the benefits. Consumer Reports research shows that systems that allow customization can lead to higher satisfaction and usage rates.  Annoying false alarms can be minimized or eliminated by sensitivity adjustments and the type of alert should be tailored to the driver’s preference. Even simply changing speed on ACC can lead to consumer dissatisfaction when some manufacturers default to coarse 5 mph or 2.5 mph speed adjustments. 


Lane systems have more potential

Most manufacturers also confuse drivers by not making it clear which system is designed for following the lanes, intervening when lane lines are crossed, or providing an alert when crossing lane lines. These various systems also often have different rules of when they operate based on speed and location. The guidelines provide ways to make these systems easier to understand and use. 


Untangle Level 2 Automation

Level 2 Automation, a system that uses ACC (adaptive cruise control) and LCA (lane centering assistance) at the same time is now available from every major automaker and on the majority of new car models.  However, ACC and LCA are two different systems that can be useful on their own in different circumstances. Most vehicles link these systems together and down allow ACC to be used while the driver controls speed.  Models like Honda and Hyundai have begun decoupling these systems leading to greater understanding and usage.


Contact: David Butler, david.butler@consumer.org