In the coming years, your car will increasingly interfere with your driving style, whether you like it or not. If you don't already have a car that is equipped with some kind of driver assistance system, then you can count on your next car or that afterwards having it on board. But what does such a driver assistance system do now? And above all, what does it not do?

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The Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) are often a standard feature on new cars and are therefore not consciously purchased by the buyer or driver. And with the delivery of a new car - or a young occasion - it is not always explained how the driver assistance systems work. In fact, half of the drivers do not know what driver assistance systems are.

To improve this, the ADAS Alliance has been set up, a collaboration of 42 organizations, government agencies, interest groups and companies. Together they want to increase the awareness of ADAS. Over the next three years, the alliance wants to "increase the safe use of ADAS by 20 percent".

Learn well in the instruction booklet

ADAS basically do a number of things for us, such as maintaining speed and keeping a distance from the vehicle in front, making an emergency stop if necessary, keeping the car within the lane and helping with reversing and parking.

For that technology to function properly, however, it is essential that the driver knows how it all works. It starts with knowing that you have this technology on board. Because if you don't know that, and your car, for example, when you hit the center line, suddenly starts adjusting itself, then you are probably frightened.

So thoroughly study your car's instruction booklet to see if your car is equipped with driver assistance systems. If it is not clear to you how these systems work, ask your dealer to explain it to you. The confusing thing about all these systems is that they do not all occur in the same combination, nor do they all work in the same way.

Then there are also the somewhat older occasions, which are equipped with driver assistance systems, but in an old version. For example, the first generation of the Citroën C5 already had a system such as Lane Assist on board, but it did not adjust it itself. It only gave a warning to the driver by means of a vibration in the seat.

The Citroën C5 already had an early version of roadway assistance on board (photo: Citroën)

Auxiliary systems cannot do a lot of things

In addition, take a good look at what the auxiliary systems can and cannot do in your car. Because it is important that you know whether your car is only able to see obstacles on the road, or whether it can actually make an emergency stop itself.

For example, during a recent test of driver assistance systems by, Mark Maaskant of the ProDrive Academy already mentioned the difference between roadside assistance and lanekeeping. "Lane Trace Assist is really an assistant and should not be confused with lanekeeping. The system helps you stay within the lines but you notice that as a driver you have to stay in control more."

And then it is also worthwhile to see whether you need to switch the auxiliary systems in your car on or off. Many systems, such as Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC), must be switched on, but there are also systems that are switched on automatically but which you can switch off. So you have to learn to deal with it.


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Driver's role becomes steering

Earlier this summer an international conference was held in Eindhoven on Intelligent Transport Systems. There was also a lot of attention for ADAS systems, because it appears that many drivers do not know, or do not know enough, what their car can actually do. To make that clear, we boarded a few ProDrive instructors in a car to find out what the possibilities and limitations of ADAS systems are.

We drive with an instructor in a Volvo V40 in a train of demo cars, in front of us a Ford Focus. The instructor switches on the ACC and takes his foot off the gas pedal. At a neat distance from the Focus we drive through the busy Eindhoven traffic.

"I have adjusted the distance to the vehicle in front to three lines," says the instructor. "With this car you can go up to five lines, the first line is 1 second, each line after that is 0.5 seconds." As we approach a traffic light, our Volvo neatly stops behind the Focus. The distance is so great that we can still see through the rear wheels under the rear bumper of the Focus. All this time Bonne has not touched the gas and brake pedals.

When after a minute or two the light turns green again, it only touches the 'resume' button briefly. Our Volvo starts moving again and follows the Ford Focus like a string. The only thing the driver does is steer.

With ACC switched on, all you have to do is steer in the Volvo (photo: Volvo)

'You can still catch up better yourself'

After a first round with the Volvo, we board with another instructor in a Kia e-Niro. "This car is fully ADAS," he says when boarding. That means that the Kia is equipped with all conceivable ADAS systems.

The ride now goes from the center of Eindhoven to the Automotive Campus in Helmond. On the N270, the Kia neatly maintains the center of the right-hand lane. "You can see that there is no white line here on the right, but there is a concrete edge, and it follows the radar." When we approach a refuge on the right-hand side, it is just as exciting, but the Kia nicely follows the edge of the asphalt.

In the meantime, the car keeps a good distance from the truck in front of us. "Now I want to pass that truck, and the car can do it all by myself. I turn on the turn signal and the car goes to the left. On the left lane the radar then sees that there is no traffic for us, and then the car starts accelerating That is of course not the best method. So in this situation it is better to take matters into your own hands and accelerate on the right lane, so that you get to the left lane at a higher speed. " This is how electronics have their limitations.

You can make the Kia Niro 'fully ADAS' (photo: AutoWeek)

Driver becomes controller

This also applies when making an emergency stop. "The car responds to the vehicle in front. If it brakes, the car also brakes. Only he must first determine how hard the vehicle in front brakes, so there is a slight delay in that."

The biggest limitation, however, is that the car only sees its car in front. A person can estimate the traffic situation and can see the traffic ahead. "For example, the car does not know that a traffic light is coming, or a roundabout. There are cars that can because they link their ADAS system to navigation."

All these systems make the job of the driver different. Instead of actively steering, as a driver you are now mainly busy checking whether the car sees what you see and does what you would like to do. Compare it with the captain of a supertanker, who is not at the helm himself, but he does keep an eye on whether the helmsman is doing his job well.

The full story was in AutoWeek 31