2019 Subaru Forester, new Forester, DriverFocus, safety features
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New Subaru Forester DriverFocus Explained; Is It Too Intrusive?

The new 2019 Subaru Forester Touring comes with a safety feature called DriverFocus. Is it too intrusive?

One of Subaru’s core values is safety and the all-new fifth-generation 2019 Forester is the safest one yet. The Forester SUV has been tested in Japan and results say it’s even safer than the outgoing model. Subaru uses its driver assist safety system called EyeSight to help reduce accidents, and it’s been proven to reduce rear-end collisions by 80 percent.

The Subaru Forester Touring trim now comes with a new active safety feature called DriverFocus that is designed to prevent distracted driving. The safety system will give the driver “feedback” and let you know if you are doing any potentially harmful things while behind the wheel. It’s like having a buddy in the car to keep an eye on you and give you a little nudge when you need it. But who likes having someone in the car telling them how to drive? No one, but having it could save your life.

Being distracted while driving is a real thing and can lead to having an accident. Whenever a driver does anything to divert their attention from the road, it’s called distracted driving. Doing things like eating, adjusting the climate control, changing the radio station on the infotainment screen, or putting on makeup can all lead to being distracted. Driving while you are fatigued is common on a long road trip or commuting home after a particularly busy day at work.

The most dangerous activity done while driving is texting on your cell phone. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the process of sending or reading a text can take a driver’s eyes off the road for a full 5 seconds. If you’re traveling at 55 miles per hour, that’s the equivalent of driving the length of a football field while wearing a blindfold. The results can be deadly. The NHTSA reports that distracted drivers were involved in 3,450 traffic deaths in 2016.


Subaru answers with Forester DriverFocus

This is why Subaru designed their new Forester with DriveFocus, to help drivers who may be distracted. The vehicle has been equipped with a system that uses facial recognition technology to determine if a driver is fatigued or distracted. It’s similar technology used on the new iPhone X and is the first of its kind in the compact SUV segment. The technology is capable of recognizing up to five drivers, and it will also remember each person’s pre-set seating, climate, and infotainment preferences.

Here is where you could feel like there is a back-seat driver telling you how to drive. DriverFocus will issue a warning if you look away from the road for more than 3 seconds. If this warning goes unheeded, it will slow your new Subaru Forester to a stop. If the driver is completely unresponsive, this technology will use Subaru’s Starlink system to contact a live operator for help.

We aren’t sure how this will work if you are driving on a busy interstate or in heavy stop-and-go traffic and you ignore the warning. The Forester will be brought to a complete stop, and this could cause an accident. Will drivers think this is too intrusive and not want to be warned to look up or else? Subaru says they will offer this technology on other vehicles in their lineup in the future. The new 2019 Subaru Forester Touring trim is the first to get it. Tell us what you think.

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Photo credit: Subaru USA

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The technology is interesting and it will take time to adjust and see the actual results of its effectiveness. Can Driverfocus be turned off? I'm all for improved safety technology as long it doesn't become too intrusive. Hopefully, we'll see this on the Ascent and next gen Outback and Legacy.
It can be turned off. There's a set of buttons to the left of the steering wheel to disable that and a few other things. But it will default back to the active mode when starting the car later. My sister has to turn it off due a suggestion from the dealer due to some eye issues she had all her life.
I have not seen this action discussed in any Subaru literature: "If this warning goes unheeded, it will slow your new Subaru Forester to a stop. If the driver is completely unresponsive, this technology will use Subaru’s Starlink system to contact a live operator for help." Is there any corroborating information that this will occur?
Yes, according to the drivers manual, your brief description of how the Driver Focus system works is correct. The manual does not mention how long it waits for you to be totally unresponsive or how it makes that determination. Having driven our 2019 Forester Touring for 3 months now, I am almost never allerted to stay focused because you have to have your eyes "off the road" for more than 3 seconds. That's a fairly long time to not be looking at the road. All-in-all, I find the new Eyesight and Driver Focus safety systems very useful and easy to live with. They are not overly intrusive and do not constantly go off unless you really are not paying attention or not driving within the road lines.
I chose this car specifically for, "driver focus. Sometimes after scuba diving I have long drives home and I'll catch myself dozing and drifting from my lane. The safety it brings is worth it to me. .
I've had my 2019 forester since 01/2019 and yesterday on the way to work it continually flashed the message "keep eyes on road" beep-beep-beep the entire commute to work 27 miles, so I stopped at the Subaru dealer and they could not find anything wrong with the system, so they "reset" it and sent me off. The next morning the "obstacle detected" keep flashing and beeping at me when I was trying to park in the parking garage at work. Something is amiss and I am not a happy camper.
This started happening to me today
This is also happening to me.