The Meaning of Car Safety Technology Acronyms

The Meaning of Car Safety Technology Acronyms

Euro NCAP provides consumer information about car safety

I must start by apologising for the acronyms and motoring jargon we wouldn’t normally publish like this BUT if you are buying a car and safety matters to you, you need to know the safety options on offer.

These are normally called ADAS* ie Advanced Driver Assistance Systems and here are the terms the car salesman is likely to use.

*ADAS as in car safety technologies to help the driver avoid or mitigate accidents whilst keeping the driver focused on driving.

NB: Some manufacturers use their own safety-related acronyms/titles, but all features will likely be one of the specified technologies below.

A Summary of Advanced Driver Assistance Systems and their meanings

We need a glossary to understand what today’s safety-laden technology can do for us. We recommend you always ask for AEB as a minimum and buy the car with it (hopefully included within the price). Expect to pay for the others. Maybe next year more safety features will be a given?

ACC (Adaptive Cruise Control)

Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) helps cut incidents caused by tailgating practices by maintaining a safe gap between your car and the one in front. Drivers that use ACC have been shown to have fewer collisions since it encourages the driver to maintain safe driving distances at all times.

AEB (Autonomous Emergency Braking)

Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB) systems can detect an impending crash and slow or stop the car if the driver fails to act. If a vehicle in front slows suddenly, the system will alert the driver and, if they fail to act, apply the brakes automatically. Some systems only work at lower, urban speeds (often a useful resource in traffic light queues) while others function up to motorway speeds.

Real world data shows that AEB is reducing the most common crash type, the rear end collision, by an impressive 38%.

BLIS (Blind Spot Indication System)

BLIS does what it says on the tin, so to speak. It is designed to stop drivers moving their car into the path of an overtaking vehicle that is hidden in the blind spot of most mirrors. It will usually use radar to sense the presence of another vehicle (including motorcycles) and will give a visual or audible warning – usually a light in the wing mirror or door pillar – to alert the driver.

Some systems actively intervene to prevent the driver moving into the other vehicle’s path by braking or steering back into lane.

Cyclist AEB

Vulnerable road users, including cyclists and pedestrians account for 30 per cent of all fatalities or serious injuries across the EU each year. The smaller size and more erratic movement of cyclists compared with cars makes them harder for standard AEB systems to track.

As with pedestrian AEB, cyclist detection systems use better sensors and algorithms to detect the presence of cyclists and respond to their movements.

LKA (Lane Keep Assist)

Lane Keep Assist (LKA) systems will gently correct your car’s steering to ensure the vehicle stays within the white lines and road edge. Not to be confused with Lane Departure Warning (LDA) systems (oh dear I’m confused…) that only warn the driver, LKA systems actively but subtly steer the vehicle back into lane.

With LKA, a front-facing camera tracks road markings to determine if the vehicle is straying out of its lane and potentially off the road or into the path of another vehicle.

This matters because 6% of A Road crashes are head-on collisions where a vehicle has left its own lane when clearly the driver isn’t in charge.

LDW (Lane Departure Warning)

Lane Departure Warning (LDW) is LKA’s lesser brother that’ll only alert the driver when the car is changing lanes without indicating.

We’re told that constant beeps and bongs from the car when driving means that the best LDW systems are subtle and do not irritate the driver into switching them off. Let us know if you think otherwise please.

Pedestrian AEB

This system detects potential collisions with pedestrians and intervenes to reduce or avoid the impact. With 5,588 pedestrians killed or seriously injured on UK roads in 2016 the widespread implementation of pedestrian AEB could have a dramatic impact on reducing road casualties.

Because of the particular shape and movement of pedestrians, pedestrian AEB has to be more complex, sensitive and discerning. Perhaps this also makes it more expensive?

RCTA (Rear Cross Traffic Alert)

Using the same corner sensors as BLIS (keep up in the back), RCTA monitors an approaching vehicle from the side and protects the driver from reversing from a parking space into the path of another vehicle. Think car parks…

These systems will normally just warn the driver but some will actively brake the vehicle to prevent a collision.

Reverse AEB

A staggering 20% of accidents involve reversing into another car and insurance claims for this total £1.7 billion annually we’re told. Far more seriously, not being aware of what is behind you can result in serious or fatal injuries to children, pedestrians and cyclists.

Reverse AEB goes a step further than warning beeps, actively applying the brakes of the car if the driver fails to heed the alerts.

TAP (Turn Across Path)

No this isn’t a plumbing accessory or a Portuguese Airline, this is a safety technology that’s like, but a bit different from RCTA apparently. We’re not totally sure what the difference is ourselves but it’s getting late and I might be feeling a tad tired now.


By all means let us know if you can add to this blog post in any way.

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