Technology in cars is expanding rapidly, especially in the realm of driver assists. Many new vehicles offer automation in the form of adaptive cruise control, automatic braking, or lane-keep assist, never mind more advanced Level 2 systems like Tesla's Autopilot. Despite the obvious safety advantages, there is a dark side to these systems. They can encourage unsafe driver activity behind the wheel.

To prevent drivers from simply ignoring the outside world while using these advanced systems, most brands incorporate at least some measure of monitoring tech to ensure drivers remain attentive and alert. Of course, some companies are better at this than others, and Consumer Reports will now consider that as a factor when evaluating its annual Top Picks. Specifically, two points will be awarded to vehicles that have adequate driver monitoring systems. On the flip side, two points will be deducted for vehicles where driver monitoring is lacking.

The new scoring begins for 2024 model year vehicles, but at this point, only Ford and General Motors receive points per Consumer Reports guidelines. What are the guidelines exactly? In short, simply tugging on the steering wheel every few seconds to keep the system happy isn't enough. Monitoring the driver through cameras is vital, but even then, the mere presence of in-car cameras isn't enough, either.

Gallery: Ford BlueCruise: First Drive

Consumer Reports highlighted BMW, Subaru, and Tesla for having cameras that were either ineffective in some circumstances or completely defeatable, whereas the systems in Ford and GM vehicles performed better. Recognizing that drivers might not like being watched, Consumer Reports also explained that points could be withheld if an automaker's privacy policy regarding the potential use of data is questionable.

"We believe it's time to recognize vehicles that have found a safer way to deploy this technology," said CR Auto Test Center Senior Director Jake Fisher. "GM's Super Cruise and now Ford's Blue Cruise both have the right combination of helping drivers enjoy the convenience of automation while verifying that they're keeping their eyes on the road."

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