What does AEB actually mean? Car safety features explained

So many acronyms, so little time. Here are all the key safety features you might see on new cars, explained in simple terms.

In an ever-developing automotive marketplace of technological advancements in the quest for autonomous driving, it is easy for potential car buyers to get lost in a sea of terms and abbreviations for electronic driver aids.

If you're looking to buy your next car, here is your essential glossary of safety terms explained...

What do ABS, TCS and ESC mean?

These three are the standard electronic driver aids that you will find on most modern vehicles.

ABS stands for Anti-lock Braking System, a driver aid that prevents the wheels from locking up by oscillating the application of the brakes and keeping the driver in control during emergency braking situations.

ESC stands for Electronic Stability Control – a system that prevents loss of control during high lateral loads by individually and selectively applying brakes on each wheel to stabilise your vehicle.

Finally, TCS stands for Traction Control System, which is a secondary function of the ESC (despite as a stand-alone technology first). It is a technology that detects a loss of traction on any or all of your car's wheels and prevents wheel spin during hard acceleration by modulating throttle inputs and therefore further preventing loss of control.

What does FCW stand for in a car?

FCW stands for Forward Collision Warning, a system consisting of a series of sensors in the front bumper of a vehicle that is able to detect and identify stationary or slow objects in front of the car and warn the driver of the hazard with sounds, vibrations or visuals.

What does AEB mean in a car?

Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB) is a safety feature in cars that, like a Forward Collision Warning, can detect objects in front of the car. The distinguishing factor, however, is that AEB systems automatically apply the brakes in emergencies to prevent collisions.

According to the Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP), AEB has been proven to reduce police-reported crashes by 55 per cent, rear-end crashes by 40 per cent, and vehicle occupant trauma by 28 per cent.

What's the difference between Lane-Keeping and Lane-Trace or Lane-Centring?

Lane-Keep Assist is an electronic aid that identifies the boundaries of the lane in which you are driving, and stops your vehicle from leaving the lane by occasionally providing assistance when you veer close enough to the lines.

Lane-Trace or Lane-Centring has the same detection technology, but it actively keeps you in the middle of the lane by constantly providing a small degree of steering assistance.

What is a five-star ANCAP safety rating?

ANCAP (The Australasian New Car Assessment Program) is an independent program that provides safety ratings to cars based on four key assessment areas: Adult Occupant Protection, Child Occupant Protection, Vulnerable Road User Protection, and Safety Assist Systems.

To achieve the maximum five-star rating, cars must achieve the highest standards across the four key areas.

However, don’t go driving Fast and Furious style right after seeing five stars next to your vehicle’s make and model name.

To achieve five stars, a car must receive a minimum score of 80 per cent, 80 per cent, 70 per cent and 70 per cent respectively for the aforementioned categories.

Previously, the minimum allowed score for the Vulnerable Road User Protection area was 60 per cent, but this has now been increased to 70 per cent due to the recognition of limited to no protection for pedestrians.

It is worth taking a look at your car’s ANCAP rating on the ANCAP website.

What is Blind-Spot Monitoring or BSM?

Blind-Spot Monitoring is a system that uses sensors near the wing mirrors to detect traffic in a car’s blind spot and alert the driver when it is unsafe to change lanes.

According to the Transport Accident Commission, blind-spot monitoring systems have been estimated to reduce lane-change crashes by 14 per cent.

What is a Safe-Exit Warning?

A Safe-Exit Warning is a system that detects approaching traffic on either side of the vehicle to advise the driver or passengers if it is unsafe to open the door and exit the car.

What is Active Cruise Control?

As the name indicates, Active Cruise Control is an evolution of standard cruise-control systems.

Like regular cruise control, Active Cruise Control uses a combination of throttle and brake inputs to maintain a set speed.

However, Active Cruise Control can also use radars to detect slowing traffic ahead and, in turn, slow your vehicle and adjust its speed based on changing conditions, while still maintaining a set distance.

What is Parking Assist?

Parking Assist is an automated parking system that can detect a parking space and, if the space is suitable, manoeuvre the car into the space for the driver with minimal intervention.

Depending on the manufacturer's system, Parking Assist can often control any or all functions involved in parking, including throttle input, braking, gear selection and steering.

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