Is my Honda CRV watching me?

As we drove down the long hill to Moab, Utah, my 2018 Honda CRV started beeping, shaking the steering wheel and flashing information messages to me.

Driver Attention Level Low, Time for a Break

I immediately started looking all over the front driver area for the camera.  Indeed I had just yawned.  We were near the end of our first day of driving returning to Seattle from a visit to our daughter in Boulder, CO.  How could the CRV possibly know I was getting tired and needed a break?

Entering Moab, Utah

I poked my wife to look at the information display and asked her to look for the camera that was watching me.  Neither of us could find the inside camera.  She looked at our information manual and found the section on “Driver Attention Monitor.”

We both started laughing and realized that we were glad our first days journey was near an end.

But how did it know?  From the CRV manual:

“If the system detects that attention is down to Level 1, it will beep, vibrate the steering wheel, and suggest a break.”

OK, but how do you detect a Level 1 or Level 2, 3, or 4?  Hmmm, nothing in the user’s manual.  I guess it will remain one of life’s mysteries.

Our round trip from Seattle to Boulder, CO, to visit family was our first long trip in the year since we purchased the CRV.  I was not able to use all the advanced driving features like cruise control driving locally.  I was in for a treat.

I am old fashioned and like to drive a stick shift.  My personal car is a 2006 MiniCooper S variation from Cooperworks with all the cool handling options and extra horsepower.  It is a six speed that is a joy to drive – for short periods.  For long trips, the Honda is more comfortable and gets much better gas mileage.

I did not realize how all the new features would actually make me a better driver.  If you don’t use your turn signal when changing lanes, the steering wheel shakes and the LCD dashboard flashes all kinds of messages that you’ve left your lane.  So the camera and radar are both helpful and a reminder to drive safer by signalling your intent.

When we got to Eastern Washington and the open spaces, I was able to use cruise control.  As I looked down there was a new information light – LKAS.  What the heck is that?  My acronym brain went to work and I bet that it had something to do with lane keeping assistance.

“A camera mounted between the windshield and the rear view mirror determines if your vehicle moves away from the center of a detected lane while driving between 45-90 mph.”

What I didn’t realize is that LKAS also combines with Collision Mitigation Braking System (CMBS).  This system not only gives you alerts, but if you are using cruise control it automatically slows the car down when you get too close to the car in front of you.  That was a bit of an unexpected surprise the first time it cut in.  Here was another system that made me a better driver – it knew the distance where I should either brake or change lanes.  Cool.

In addition to the obvious safety advantages, the different cameras help with staying alert.  How is my judgement compared to the actual measurements of LKAS and CMBS?  How do my rear view mirror alerts to cars passing in my blind spot compare to how situationally aware I am to cars around me?

In spite of always wanting to be in control, I found the CRV a joy to drive with all these safety features.  I am not looking forward to the day when we have self driving cars as I actually enjoy driving and taking long trips.  However, I am delighted at the safety features that Honda and other car manufacturers are putting into their new autos.

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