In a recent announcement, Consumer Reports stated that it has decided to reward carmakers whose driver-assist systems encourage safe driving behaviors. With this in mind, the CR 2022 autos Top Picks, which would be announced on February 17, would reflect scoring changes based on how vehicles’ driver monitoring systems perform in real-world scenarios.
Under the updated scoring system, vehicles with systems that encourage safe driving are given two additional points. So far, Consumer Reports noted that only Ford’s Blue Cruise and GM’s Super Cruise would be earning these extra points. Jake Fisher, senior director of Consumer Reports’ Auto Test Center, explained these findings.
“We believe it’s time to recognize vehicles that have found a safer way to deploy this technology. GM’s Super Cruise and now Ford’s BlueCruise both have the right combination of helping drivers enjoy the convenience of automation while verifying that they’re keeping their eyes on the road,” he said.
Different carmakers utilize different driver monitoring systems. Ford’s Blue Cruise even taps the brakes to “jolt” an inattentive driver, and other systems limit access to certain features if a driver proves inattentive. Other systems engage an audible alarm if a driver is not paying attention to the road, and some restrict further usage of automated features until the next drive.
Consumer Reports noted that it has tested driver-assist systems from five carmakers, namely BMW, Ford, GM, Subaru, and Tesla. In BMW’s case, features like adaptive cruise control and lane-keeping assist could reportedly be engaged even if the vehicle’s internal camera is covered or toggled off in a system menu. Subaru’s EyeSight and DriverFocus, on the other hand, could detect driver distraction in some scenarios, but it could be completely turned off.
As for Tesla, Consumer Reports claims that in their Model S and Model Y with V11 software, Autopilot could still be engaged while the cabin camera was fully covered. CR shared concerns about Tesla using video data from its vehicles’ cabin camera as well, since owners have the option to send footage from their cars to the company. Lastly, Consumer Reports claimed that as long as drivers’ hands were on the wheel, there were no warnings if drivers’ eyes were off the road.
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