As long as vehicles do not provide full automation, the design and function of the Human Machine Interface (HMI) is crucial for ensuring that the human “driver” and the vehicle-based automated systems collaborate in a safe manner. When the driver is decoupled from active control, the design of the HMI becomes even more critical. Without mutual understanding, the two agents (human and vehicle) will fail to accurately comprehend each other’s intentions and actions. This paper proposes a set of design principles for in-vehicle HMI and reviews some current HMI designs in the light of those principles. We argue that in many respects, the current designs fall short of best practice and have the potential to confuse the driver. This can lead to a mismatch between the operation of the automation in the light of the current external situation and the driver’s awareness of how well the automation is currently handling that situation. A model to illustrate how the various principles are interrelated is proposed. Finally, recommendations are made on how, building on each principle, HMI design solutions can be adopted to address these challenges.