All you need to know about Toyota Safety Sense

April 24th, 2017 by

Nowadays, modern vehicles come equipped with additional features to ensure the driver is safe at all times. Better than putting airbags and seatbelts, planning ahead decreases the chance of any accident even before it happens. Toyota Safety Sense is a safe bet on avoiding any possible threat it in the first place. That’s what Toyota Safety Sense (TSS) is all about.

Most car crash situations are caused by the driver’s inability to respond quickly enough to an oncoming obstacle. This means that the vast majority of car accidents could be avoided if the driver was aware of any upcoming threats. In this sense, TSS is the latest in car design and crash prevention.

The Toyota Safety Sense features are designed to protect drivers, passengers, and pedestrians alike, based on the three most common types of events that cause collisions.

  • Frontal crashes: When a driver does not pay attention to what’s in front of the road or when brakes fail, head-on collisions are likely to occur. Being distracted when in traffic or perhaps going too fast without preparing oneself for a sudden stop are common causes of frontal collisions. The TSS implements several features that we will discuss shortly, that will help avoid a frontal collision.
  • Unintended lane departures: Have you ever drifted outside your lane without noticing? It is more common than you think. Toyota has worked on its path monitoring system since 2002, becoming one of the leaders in the field. These systems warn the driver if the vehicle appeared to be drifting out of its lane. When this occurs, the car emits an alert, prompting the driver to beware of the road. Note that the system relies on the visible lane markers in front of the vehicle. What’s more, Toyota advises to not “overly rely” on the system. The driver should be responsible for keeping control of the vehicle at all times.
  • Nighttime accidents: By far, the most dangerous and likely way to get involved in a car crash is to not be able to see what’s going on. At night, unavoidable hazards galore, mainly because our reaction window is at its lowest. The TSS system automatically turns on the high-beams, while also detecting oncoming vehicles by analyzing their head and tail lights. Using high-beams more frequently allows for a greater chance to see obstacles and pedestrians at night. Just like the lane monitoring system, Toyota asks its drivers to not overly rely on this system, but rather use it as an additional tool for being safe on the road.

In essence, TSS will be your car acting as a copilot to help you keep your eyes on the road. Remember that getting to any destination always depends on you being safe, rather than going fast or not taking the optimal route.

There are two types of Toyota Safety Sense, these being TSS-C and TSS-P, designed for compact and mid-to-large vehicles respectively.

The TSS-C brings the most basic yet useful features devised by Toyota’s crash prevention team. These would be the Pre-Collision System, Lane Departure Alert, and Automatic High Beams (AHB).

South Dade Toyota Prius Two

The 2016 Toyota Prius Two also comes with the PCS. Image Source: South Dade Toyota

Pre-Collision System (PCS)

Avoiding collisions has to do with improving the driver’s awareness of its surroundings. Consequently, TSS relies on an in-vehicle camera and a laser to detect vehicles ahead of yours.

When the Pre-Collision System determines there is a high risk of a collision, PCS signals the driver to brake and steer away. The PCS’ alerts are designed to work with speeds of 7 to 85 mph. If the driver brakes, the system will provide additional braking assistance depending on how hard the pedal is pushed.

The alert’s timing can be adjusted, and the PCS function can be turned ON and OFF at any time. Although, it will turn itself back on after ignition. Toyota would like to remind its clients that PCS does not detect pedestrians and there are specific conditions where the laser may not work properly. For example in unfavorable weather conditions and sharp terrain.


What is Lane Departure Alert (LDA)

As we discussed earlier, the LDA system detects the lane markers on the road and determines the vehicle’s position. If it starts to drift away, the driver will receive a warning. This feature only works at speeds of 32 mph or higher.

What are Automatic High Beams (AHB)

When enabled, the AHB system will use the vehicle’s camera to detect the lights emitted by other vehicles. This will allow the car to automatically switch between low and high beams whenever it is necessary. The system also allows spotting obstacles way earlier.

The TSS-P copies the features of the TSS-C, while adding Pedestrian Detection Function, Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist Function, and Dynamic Radar Cruise Control.

Pedestrian Detection Function (PCS W/PD)

The PCS W/PD uses the installed camera and the millimeter-wave radar to detect pedestrians in front of the vehicle. Whenever there is an increased risk of collision, the car emits an alert so the driver can assume control as soon as possible. Toyotas’s PCS W/WPD works at speeds between 7 to 50 mph. Just like the other TSS features, the Pedestrian Detection Function may not work in unfavorable weather conditions.

It’s worth noting the PCS should only be used as an assistance and in no way as a replacement for the driver’s own caution and common sense.

Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist Function (LDA W/SA)

The LDA w/SA system relies on the vehicle’s camera to detect road markers and map its position in the pavement. Whenever the system detects that the car is unintentionally drifting away from its course, LDA alerts the driver.

For vehicles with Toyota Safety Sense P, the Lane Departure Alert system will help the driver with a “small corrective steering” without user input.  Users can turn the Steering Assist function ON or OFF and even adjust its sensibility. The settings will remain the same even if the vehicle is turned off for a prolonged period of time or if the system is reset.

Dynamic Radar Cruise Control (DRCC)

Last but certainly not least, there’s Toyota’s DRCC, which works in a similar fashion to standard cruise control functions, keeping the car at a constant speed as considered convenient by the driver. The difference is that Toyota is including the distance control mode, allowing the driver to maintain an established distance to other vehicles.

To keep the car within an appropriate range, the system employs the millimeter-wave radar and the camera to detect nearby vehicles and swiftly calculate the distance. If the vehicle in front happens to slow down, then the DRCC will automatically slow down the vehicle without having to adjust anything. If the vehicle in front slows down abruptly, then the DRCC may resort to using the breaks depending on the circumstances.

Yet again, Toyota wants drivers to know that the DRCC is not going to work 100 percent of the time, especially under “inclement weather” which includes sandstorms, fog, and snow. The DRCC works when the vehicle is traveling at speeds greater than 28 mph. However, newer models such as the 2017 Toyota Prius Liftback and Prius Prime and the 2016 Prius Liftback have Full-Speed Range DRCC. All vehicles can work at speeds between 0 and 110 mph, allowing the car to follow others by matching speeds and keeping a present distance while analyzing the vehicle in front.

What Toyota cars come with Toyota Safety Sense (TSS)?

(Available as of April 2017)

For more information on each function’s features and limitations, please download the Toyota Safety Sense TSS brochure or review your Toyota vehicle owner’s manual.

For more details regarding Toyota Safety Sense or any of our vehicles, please contact us.

Posted in Safety