We love old and classic cars. But if we have to name just a single area in which all newer cars are better, that’s safety. With all the electronic safety and assist systems currently available in the automotive industry – in addition to the stronger body constructions, better brakes, and smarter energy-absorbing zones – modern vehicles are significantly safer than the models from the 1980s, 1990s, and even 2000s. But only if you know what those systems do and how to use them, and it turns out many drivers don’t.

Consumer Reports is concerned about the level of confusion these new safety systems cause for many drivers and has a new study that shows drivers are often not familiar with how and when the modern safety systems in their cars work. In many cases, this confusion can lead to drivers completely disabling certain tech and basically losing some of the core safety functions of their vehicles. The agency also published detailed guidance that suggests ways to make these safety systems easier for owners to use.

Gallery: Driver Assistance Systems: The Ultimate Guide To Car Safety Tech

“Steering wheels have become cluttered with unrecognizable symbols to operate ADAS [advanced driver assistance systems] features, which drivers have to somehow distinguish and understand while they’re out on the road,” Jake Fisher, Consumer Reports senior director of auto testing, explains. “But if they turn the systems off, that completely defeats their purpose — and then no one on the road benefits from them.”

So, what’s CR’s solution? The new guidance is shared with automakers, policymakers, and auto safety organizations and aims to shine more light on how these systems can be made easier to use and understand from drivers. Increased levels of “understanding, acceptance, and satisfaction” will allow for a higher portion of drivers to actually use them and benefit from the safety they should provide. Because simply having a certain system and keeping it deactivated in the background doesn’t mean you are actually assisted by that system.

Consumer Reports’ report and guidance are based on responses from more than 35,000 vehicle owners and data collected from the 2021 ADAS survey. This information has been used to learn more about the levels of understanding and satisfaction, as well as how often drivers actually use those systems. Full details about the survey and the new guidance can be found at the source link below.

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