Most driver monitoring systems are worthless

A driver uses Ford's BlueCruise.

A driver uses Ford’s BlueCruise.
Photo: Ford

Consumer Reports is set to announce its top choices for cars next month, but the site just released a fascinating treat: It’s going to start scoring points for driver monitoring systems, and so far, only Ford’s BlueCruise and General Motors Super Cruise even earn these points. Yep.

If you are unfamiliar with CR’s rankings, the site includes lots of different metrics – safety, reliability, technology and more – to create an overall vehicle ranking list. Cars can earn a total of 100 points for a perfect score, and currently CR adds two points to vehicles that come with active driving assistance packages that have driver monitoring systems, or those that take into account drivers’ sight lines to ensure they see the road. These systems are essential also alert drivers when they lose attention.

In 2026, but vehicles that Do not do it offer these systems will actually lose two points from CR’s total score.

Here is more from Consumer Reports:

CR defines an adequate driver monitoring system as one that will reliably detect the driver’s inattention and alert the driver to be alert while vehicle automation is in use, says Kelly Funkhouser, Head of Vehicle Technology at CR. If the driver does not respond to these alerts, the system should escalate alerts in an attempt to wake the driver. “If the driver still does not respond, the system should ideally cause the vehicle to stop as safely as possible,” she says.

Right now, Jake Fisher, the senior director of CRs Auto Test Center, only ranks Super Cruise and BlueCruise as worth a damn because they “both have the right combination of helping drivers enjoy the benefits of automation while keeping their eyes on the road. ”

The big goal here is to actually encourage safer driving as vehicles become more automated. But humans are simple creatures; as a task is automated, we stop paying attention. Think of something as simple as going from a manual to an automatic transmission: When this process was automated, it enabled drivers to pay attention to things that were not changing.

Other Automakers – Tesla, BMW, Subaru and Lexus – have either added or are adds similar systems, but for now CR does not bother to consider these systems worth points. Here’s why:

  • BMW Traffic Jam Assist: Works only at speeds below 40 mph, can be switched off, can work with cameras covered
  • Subaru EyeSight and DriverFocus: Can be turned off completely via the menu, does not need to work for use with other driver assistance systems
  • Tesla Autopilot: Drivers can use Autopilot while camera is covered, drivers can still take your hands off the steering wheel even when not paying attention, no warnings when your eyes were on or off the road

Will the consumer report on their own Convince more automakers to include these advanced driver monitoring systems? Probably not – but it seems like the world is going that way anyway, so CR might as well start giving these things points.

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