Consumer Watch: Advanced safety features in cars

Ninety-three percent of new cars offer at least one advanced safety feature, like automatic emergency braking or blind-spot warning.

However, AAA says car buyers can encounter as many as 20 different names for the same feature.

Take blind spot warnings, for example. Honda calls it a "blind spot information system," while Toyota calls it the "blind spot monitor." Some GM models call it "lane change alert."

"So if they were all called the same thing, then consumers would be able to understand what these technologies are doing and also be able to walk into a dealer and get a technology on their car that they want, and be able to use it potentially for safety on the road," says Consumer Reports Car Expert Kelly Funkhouser.

Some good news is that earlier this year, the Department of Transportation endorsed a list of proposed, standardized names for safety features.

Right now, automakers aren't forced to adopt these definitions, but experts say it's a step in the right direction.

"The next step, of course, is for all automakers to make these critical safety technologies standard across every vehicle that they make," says Consumer Reports Advocacy Expert David Friedman.
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