The glut of modern driver-assistance systems on new cars has quickly gotten confusing. What’s the difference between lane-keeping assist and lane-departure warning? And is a surround-view camera different from a 360-degree camera system? You should know the answers to these questions, because it, and they might just save your life.

Scroll down to learn what many these technologies do and what they’re called by the staff at

Active Park Assist

Active Park Assist

Active park assist systems automatically park your car with little or no driver input. Parallel parking assist is the norm for these systems, although many can now also help you park your car perpendicularly.

Other common names: Park Assist, Automatic Parking Assist, Remote Smart Parking Assist, Intelligent Parking Assist, Parking Assistant, Autopark

Adaptive Cruise Control

Adaptive Cruise Control

Adaptive cruise control systems are able to automatically adjust the speed of your car to maintain a safe following distance between you and the car ahead. These distances can usually be set manually anywhere from one or two car lengths to three or four car lengths.

Adaptive cruise control equipped with stop and go (otherwise known as Adaptive Cruise Control With Stop And Go) is capable of functioning at very low speeds, including coming to a complete stop and starting again, which makes it perfect for stop-and-go traffic.

Other common names: Adaptive Cruise Assist, Active Cruise Control, Smart Cruise Control, Intelligent Cruise Control, Smart Cruise Control, Radar Cruise Control, Distronic

Adaptive Headlights

Adaptive Headlights

Adaptive headlights follow the direction of the steering wheels. Some systems do this by actively swiveling your headlights to aim where the wheels are pointing, while others turn on separate headlights that are already aimed at where the wheels are pointing.

Other common names: Dynamic Bending Lights, Active Bending Lights

Automatic High-Beam Headlights

Automatic High-Beam Headlights

Automatic high-beam headlights automatically switch between the high- and low-beam lamps as other vehicles approach or in changing light conditions. For instance, when you’re driving with your brights on and an oncoming car appears in the distance, automatic high-beam headlights will automatically switch back to a low-beam setting until the car passes.

Other common names: High-Beam Assist, IntelliBeam, Intelligent High Beams, High-Beam Control, Light Assist

Blind-Spot Monitoring

Blind-Spot Monitoring

Blind-spot monitoring is a passive system that alerts the driver to objects in the vehicle’s blind spots. Warnings usually come courtesy of lights located on or near the side mirrors that illuminate when another vehicle enters your blind spot. In some cases, blind-spot monitoring systems will give an audible alarm as well if you turn on your blinker to switch lanes where another vehicle is already detected.

Other common names: Side Assist, Blind-Spot Detection, Lane Change Alert, Side Blind-Zone Alert, Blind-Spot Information System, BLIS, Blind-Spot Collision Warning, Blind-Spot Warning, Blind-Spot Assist, Lane-Change Assist

Forward Collision Warning

Forward Collision Warning

Forward collision warning alerts the driver to an impending forward collision. The alerts usually take the form of both audible beeps and flashing lights that are placed directly within the driver’s field of vision.

Other common names: Frontal Collision Warning, Forward Collision Alert, Pre-Collision Assist, Forward Obstruction Warning, City Collision Mitigation

Automatic Emergency Braking

Automatic Emergency Braking

As its name implies, automatic emergency braking applies the vehicle’s brakes without driver input if a collision is impending. Forward automatic emergency braking is more common, however, many automakers also offer a system that works when the car is in reverse. This system is able to lessen the severity of an impact, if not avoid one altogether.

These systems are often, but not always, able to detect pedestrians (otherwise known as automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection), and many automakers also offer automatic emergency braking systems that work when the car is in reverse.

Other common names: Collision Mitigation Braking System, Forward Collision Warning Plus, Pre Sense City, City Collision Mitigation With Braking, City Safeguard, Safeguard Plus, Forward Automatic Braking, Active Braking, Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist, Collision Mitigation Braking System, Forward Emergency Braking, Active Braking, Pre-Collision System, Smart Brake Support, Smart City Brake Support, Active Brake Assist, Congestion Emergency Braking, Forward Collision Mitigation, Pre-Collision Braking, Pre-Collision, Autonomous Emergency Braking, City Safety

Automatic Emergency Steering

Automatic Emergency Steering

Automatic emergency steering assists the driver in steering the vehicle out of the way of an oncoming object in order to avoid a collision.

Other common names: Collision Avoidance Assist, Evasion Aid, Evasive Steering Assist

Lane Departure Warning

Lane-Departure Warning

Lane-departure warning alerts the driver to the fact the car is drifting over lane markings. This is often done with an audible warning, but some automakers also employ visual or tactile warnings, the latter of which is usually felt through the steering wheel.

Other common names: Lane-Departure Alert

Lane Keep Assist

Lane-Keep Assist

Lane-keeping assist will steer your car back into its lane if it begins to drift over lane markings. These systems generally include the functions of lane-departure warning systems, as well.

Other common names: Road Departure Mitigation, LaneSense, Lane-Keeping System, Lane-Departure Alert With Steering Assist, Lane Assist, Lane-Keeping Aid

Lane Centering

Lane Centering

Lane centering prevents your car from drifting over lane markings by keeping your car centered between lane markings. Whereas lane-keeping assist is a reactive system that only comes into play once the vehicle begins to drift, lane centering is a proactive system that actively keeps the car centered in its lane.

Other common names: Lane-Keeping Assist, Lane Assist, Steering Assist, Lane-Following Assist, Lane-Tracing Assist, Active Steering Assist, Active Lane-Keep Assist, Autosteer

Night Vision

Night Vision

Night vision uses thermal imaging to display objects giving off heat in the road ahead (usually pedestrians or animals such as deer) that are difficult for human eyes to spot in the dark of night.

Other common names: Night Vision Assist, Night View Assist Plus

Rear Cross-Traffic Alert

Rear Cross-Traffic Alert

Rear Cross-Traffic Alert warns drivers of oncoming perpendicular traffic from behind the car when backing up. Most systems also indicate from which direction the traffic is coming.

Other common names: Rear Cross-Path Detection, Cross-Traffic Assist Rear, Cross-Traffic Alert Rear, Rear Cross-Traffic Collision Warning, Rear Traffic Monitor, Rear Cross-Traffic Collision Avoidance Assist, Rear Traffic Alert, Cross-Traffic Alert

Surround View Camera

Surround-View Camera

Surround-view camera systems stitch together the feeds of multiple exterior-mounted cameras to provide a 360-degree, birds-eye view of your car. Systems continue to improve, to the point where some luxury cars can create a 3D model of your car that you can pan around to see its location in relation to the environment around it.

Other common names: Surround Vision, Around-View Monitor, 360-Degree Surround Camera, Panoramic View Monitor, Multi-View Camera System, Overhead-View Camera

Semi-Autonomous Driving Systems

Semi-Autonomous Driving Systems

A number of automakers offer semi-autonomous driving systems. In the simplest terms, these systems combine adaptive cruise control and lane centering to allow the car to just about drive on its own. Still, the driver needs to continue to pay attention to the road ahead, as these systems still rely on human intervention in a number of situations. Below are a number of well-known semi-autonomous driving systems (and the safety systems that make them up) offered by various automakers.

Traffic-Jam Assist (Audi, Kia, Porsche)

Traffic Jam Assistant (BMW)

Super Cruise (Cadillac)

ProPilot Assist (Infiniti, Nissan)

Distronic Plus (Mercedes)

Autopilot (Tesla)

Pilot Assist (Volvo)

Safety Suite

Safety Suites

Automakers often combine multiple safety systems into an umbrella package. Many also include semi-autonomous driving hardware. Below are a handful of well-known such suites (and the safety systems that make them up) offered by various automakers.

AcuraWatch (Acura): Consists of Forward Collision Warning, Automatic Emergency Braking, Adaptive Cruise Control, Lane Keep Assist, Lane Departure Warning, Automatic High-Beam Headlights, and Lane Centering

Co-Pilot 360 (Ford, Lincoln): Consists of Blind-Spot Monitoring with Rear Cross-Traffic Alert, Lane Departure Warning with Lane-Keep Assist, Forward Collision Warning, Automatic Emergency Braking With Pedestrian Detection, and Automatic High-Beam Headlights

Honda Sensing (Honda): Consists of Forward Collision Warning, Automatic Emergency Braking, Lane Departure Warning With Lane-Keep Assist, Lane Centering, Adaptive Cruise Control, and Automatic High-Beam Headlights

Lexus Safety System+ 2.0 (Lexus): Consists of Forward Collision Warning, Automatic Emergency Braking With Pedestrian Detection, Lane Departure Warning, Lane-Keep Assist, Automatic High-Beam Headlights, Adaptive Cruise Control, and Lane Centering

Safety Shield 360 (Nissan): Consists of Forward Collision Warning, Automatic Emergency Braking With Pedestrian Detection, rear automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning, Blind-Spot Monitoring, Rear Cross-Traffic Alert, and Automatic High-Beam Headlights

EyeSight (Subaru): Consists of Forward Collision Warning, Automatic Emergency Braking, Adaptive Cruise Control, Lane-Keeping Assist, and Lane-Departure Warning

Toyota Safety Sense 2.0 (Toyota): Consists of Forward Collision Warning, Automatic Emergency Braking With Pedestrian Detection, Lane Departure Warning, Lane-Keep Assist, Automatic High-Beam Headlights, Adaptive Cruise Control, and Lane Centering

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