Consumer Reports Cites Only Ford, GM As Offering Effective Driver Monitoring Tech

Consumer Reports Cites Only Ford, GM As Offering Effective Driver Monitoring Tech

Ford and General Motors

GM
were the only two automakers credited in a new Consumer Reports survey of driver monitoring technology, according to the head of its auto test center.

The surveyed, released Thursday, focused on effectiveness of the computers and interior cameras programmed to detect if drivers are focused on the road as more driving functions — steering, braking and acceleration – are automated.

On February 17 Consumer Reports will release its 2022 Autos Top Picks. The ratings will reflect the publication’s evaluation of driver monitoring technology. A vehicle will be awarded an extra two points if its system encourages drivers to stay alert and focused.

Based on the evaluations done so far, only Ford’s Blue Cruise and GM’s Super Cruise will earn those extra points, according to Jake Fisher,  senior director of Consumer Reports’ Auto Test Center.

But not all Ford and GM models are equipped with these systems.

Ford is offering BlueCruise on the Mustang Mach-E and is gradually making it available on the F-150 pickup truck.

GM offers Super Cruise on 2022 models of the GMC Hummer electric pickup, the GMC Sierra and Chevrolet Silverado pickups, the Cadillac Escalade and XT6 SUVs and Cadillace CT4 and CT5 sedans.

There are measurable benefits to features such as blind spot alert, lane centering and adaptive cruise control, which are among the automate assist technologies that are now in about have of all new vehicles.

But there is growing evidence that some drivers tend to rely too much of them and that behavior creates significant risks that the technology can’t always prevent.

“We believe it’s time to recognize vehicles that have found a safer way to deploy this technology,” said Fisher, “GM’s Super Cruise and Ford’s BlueCruise both have the right combination of helping drivers enjoy the convenience of automation while verifying that they are keeping their eyes on the road.”

Starting in the 2024 model year, vehicles that have active driver assistance without adequate driver monitoring will lose two points from their overall score, increasing to four lose points in the 2026 model year.

Agencies such as the National Transportation Safety Board, the European New Car Assessment Program and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety are urging automakers to including driver monitoring cameras to reduce the risk that drivers may tune out.

Currently BMW, Ford, General Motors, Tesla

TSLA
and Subaru offer some type of driver monitoring capability. While all five companies contend their systems can detect and prevent driver inattention, Consumer Reports found significant flaws in some of them.

Most of the monitoring systems deploy infrared cameras the track head and eye movements.

If the cameras see that a driver’s dead is turned away from the road for more than a certain period, they can trigger an audible alarm or send another type of signal to the driver. Ford’s BlueCruise, for example, will tap the brakes enough to capture the driver’s attention. Other systems will deactivate the automated features if the driver ignores repeated warnings.

“If the driver still doesn’t react, the system should ideally bring the vehicle to a stop as safely as possible,” said Kelly Funkhouser, manager for vehicle technology at CR.

CR also is considering subtracting points depending on an automaker’s privacy practices. For example, BMW, Ford, and GM told CR that their systems do not transmit in-cabin data or video outside the vehicle.

Subaru’s DriverFocus system uses facial recognition technology, although the automaker tells CR it does not record any information. Tesla’s cabin camera can capture video from inside the vehicle and—if the driver chooses—send that footage directly to Tesla for its use.