Driver Assistance Systems Gain Popularity on GM Models

Many new GM models have a number of driver assistance systems that work together to help avoid collisions or reduce vehicle damage. These systems do not replace the need for driver attention, but can assist in certain situations by braking the vehicle, maintain lane position, and warning of nearby vehicles, obstacles or pedestrians.


Here’s an overview of the some of the more common driver assistance systems available on new GM models. Refer to the appropriate Service Information for diagnostic and repair instructions.


Collision/Detection System Settings


Many of the driver assistance systems can be turned on/off or their operation can be customized through the Settings menus on the infotainment system. Available Settings menus are dependent on vehicle equipment. To view the settings on most vehicles, go to Settings > Vehicle > Collision/Detection Systems. (Fig. 1)


Fig. 1


Safety Alert Seat


The Safety Alert Seat provides a vibration in the driver’s seat cushion to alert the driver of potential hazards, based on the serial data messages received from the control modules of other driver assistance systems. Safety Alert Seat components include the seat memory control module and left and right haptic seat motors. The two motors are located on the left and right side of the seat cushion. Depending on the alert, either the left, right, or both motors will activate.


Safety Alert Seat vibrations or audible beeps may be selected instead in the Settings menu on the infotainment system.


Lane Change Alert with Side Blind Zone Alert


The Lane Change Alert/Side Blind Zone Alert system is designed to detect other vehicles in the side blind zone of a vehicle or rapidly approaching that area to provide a warning to the driver before making a lane change. An amber warning symbol is displayed on the left or right side mirror (Fig. 2) when a vehicle is detected and the symbol flashes if a turn signal is activated on the same side as the detected vehicle.


Fig. 2


The side object sensor modules, which are also used by the Rear Cross Traffic Alert system, are located on each side of the vehicle behind the rear fascia and are not directly visible from outside the vehicle. The sensors use radar to determine the presence of objects nearby.


Lane Keep Assist with Lane Departure Warning


There are two stages of warning/intervention for the driver to help avoid collisions due to unintentional lane departures. The first stage is the steering input provided by the Lane Keep Assist system if the vehicle approaches a detected lane marking without using a turn signal in that direction. It does not continuously steer the vehicle. The system uses a camera to detect lane markings between 37 mph (60 km/h) and 112 mph (180 km/h). When the system is available to assist, the Lane Keep Assist indicator on the instrument cluster is green and when the system is providing assist, the indicator is amber.


The second stage is a warning chime or haptic seat vibration (if equipped with a Safety Alert Seat) if the system detects that the vehicle will cross the lane marking despite the steering input. If a haptic seat vibration occurs, it is on the same side of the seat as the lane departure direction. The system will not assist or provide an alert if it detects that the driver is actively steering.


The Lane Departure Warning system, on vehicles not equipped with Lane Keep Assist, also may help avoid collisions due to unintentional lane departures, but it does not provide steering input. The system provides a warning if the vehicle is crossing a detected lane marking without using a turn signal in the lane departure direction.


The front view camera module detects lane markings. The electric power steering uses a torque sensor to detect driver inputs and relays that information to the front view camera module. The electric power steering is used to provide steering input based on the forward looking sensor outputs, such as lateral offset of the vehicle, relative yaw angle and time to line crossing. The system can be turned on or off by pressing the Lane Keep Assist button, usually located on the steering wheel (Fig. 3) or center of the instrument panel.


Fig. 3


Rear Cross Traffic Alert


To help enhance driver visibility when the vehicle is in Reverse, the Rear Cross Traffic Alert will warn of traffic approaching from either direction by displaying a red alert on either side of display screen of the Rear Vision Camera. There will also be an audible warning or seat vibration warning.


The side object sensor modules send out a serial data message to activate the warnings when an object is detected in the rear cross traffic zone. The system operates when vehicle speed is 6 mph (10 kph) or less and is designed to detect objects moving at speeds up to 22 mph (36 kph).


The system will only alert on objects of interest that pose a potential collision with the vehicle. It will not alert to stationary objects, such as signs or parked cars.


On many vehicles, the Rear Cross Traffic Alert system can be turned off with the Parking Assist button. If equipped, turning off Parking Assist and Rear Cross Traffic Alert will also turn off the Rear Automatic Braking system.


Forward Collision Alert


The Forward Collision Alert system may help to avoid or reduce the harm caused by a front-end collision. Forward Collision Alert is a warning system and does not apply the brakes.


The system uses the front view camera module to issues a warning to the driver when a potential collision risk exists. When the system detects a vehicle in the path ahead, the green Vehicle Ahead indicator is illuminated on the instrument cluster. When approaching a vehicle ahead too quickly, the system provides a red flashing alert on the windshield and rapidly beeps or provides a haptic warning (if equipped with the Safety Alert Seat). It also has a tailgating feature that illuminates the Vehicle Ahead indicator in amber if following another vehicle much too closely.


In addition, a page on the Driver Information Center Info menu on some vehicles shows the Following Distance, indicated in seconds, to the vehicle ahead. If no vehicle is detected, dashes are displayed. (Fig. 4)


Fig. 4


The front view camera module is located behind the windshield, looking out at the road ahead to detect vehicles directly ahead. The system detects vehicles within a distance of approximately 197 ft. (60 m) and operates at speeds above 5 mph (8 km/h). If the vehicle has Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC), it can detect vehicles to distances of approximately 360 ft. (110 m) and operates at all speeds.


The driver can select the warning gap time (the time between the vehicle and a detected vehicle), also called the alert sensitivity, used by the system by pressing the Following Gap/Forward Collision Alert button on the steering wheel. The timing can be set to Far, Medium, or Near.


The driver can select between audible or haptic alerts in the vehicle personalization menus. The Forward Collision Alert system can also be turned on or off through the vehicle personalization menus. Go to Settings > Vehicle > Collision/Detection Systems.


Forward/Reverse Automatic Braking


Forward Automatic Braking, which includes Intelligent Brake Assist, will detect a vehicle ahead that is traveling in the same direction that the vehicle may be about to crash into. It can provide a boost to braking or automatically brake the vehicle to help avoid or lessen the severity of a collision when driving in a forward gear. Depending on the situation, the vehicle may automatically brake moderately or hard. Forward Automatic Braking can only occur if a vehicle is detected, as shown by the Vehicle Ahead indicator being illuminated. The system works when driving in a forward gear between 5 mph (8 km/h) and 50 mph (80 km/h), or on vehicles with Adaptive Cruise Control, above 2 mph (4 km/h). It can detect vehicles up to approximately 197 ft. (60 m).


The system uses the active safety control module, vehicle direction camera, radar sensor module – long range, radar sensor module – short range left front, and radar sensor module – short range right front, to determine if an imminent collision risk exists.


The Reverse Automatic Braking system detects if the vehicle is backing too fast to avoid a collision and may automatically brake hard to a stop. In conjunction with the backing warning system, if the driver does not respond to the audible or haptic alerts while driving in Reverse, the system will automatically brake the vehicle to a stop.


Pressing the brake pedal after the vehicle comes to a stop will release Reverse Automatic Braking. It may be necessary to release the electronic parking brake. When it is safe to do so, pressing the accelerator pedal firmly at any time will override Reverse Automatic Braking.


Front Pedestrian Braking


The Front Pedestrian Braking system is designed to help avoid or reduce the harm caused by front-end crashes with nearby pedestrians when driving in a forward gear. It’s a feature subset of Forward Automatic Braking. No added components are required. The system displays an amber indicator when a nearby pedestrian is detected directly ahead. (Fig. 5) When approaching a detected pedestrian too quickly, it provides a red flashing alert on the windshield and rapidly beeps and provides a boost to braking or automatically brakes the vehicle.


Fig. 5


Front Pedestrian Braking can detect and alert to pedestrians in a forward gear at speeds between 5 mph (8 km/h) and 50 mph (80 km/h). During daytime driving, the system detects pedestrians up to a distance of approximately 40 m (131 ft.). Pedestrians must be at least 31.5 inches (80 cm) tall to be detected. During nighttime driving, system performance is very limited.


The Front Pedestrian Braking system can be set to Alert and Brake, Alert, or Off using the vehicle personalization menus. Go to Settings > Vehicle > Collision/Detection Systems.


For additional information, check out the latest Emerging Issues seminar. It includes a new series on Active Safety Systems.


TIP: For more information about GM Active Safety Systems, log in to GM GlobalConnect and, in a new tab, go to On the left side of the screen, select the Active Safety link.


– Thanks to Katul Patel


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