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A car that judges your driving?

Safety advocates have complained loudly about the distracted driving epidemic sweeping both cities and rural areas. And do not get them started about the statistics of driving under the influence of alcohol, drugs or even a lack of sleep. So, it would make sense that the safety-conscious Volvo would heed the message and take matters into the hands of its engineers.

The Swedish vehicle manufacturer has rolled out a new plan for safe driving called Vision 2020. This bold plan uses 21st-century technology such as in-vehicle cameras and sensors to determine if the driver is distracted, under the influence or even sleepy.

The manufacturer’s engineers have designed a camera to monitor the eye movements of the driver to ensure that they remain awake, sober and keep their eyes on the road. Similarly, the car will also note if a driver’s hands leave the steering wheel for a period to send a text or use a personal device.

If the car determines that the driver is not acting responsibly, it will notify Volvo’s on-call assistance. An operator will then check in with the driver. If the driver does not respond, the car will automatically slow down and potentially safely park itself if necessary. This will be standard in all Volvo cars by early 2020. To a similar end, the cars will also be outfitted with governors that ensures that the top speed is 112 miles per hour, regardless of the model.

Safe or intrusive?

Some vehicle buyers may not be onboard with a car (and manufacturer) who tells them what they can and cannot do behind the wheel. Moreover, some privacy advocates question whether it is such a good idea for the car to record a driver’s actions in the privacy of one’s vehicle. This criticism, however, has been dismissed by Volvo as the same arguments made when seat belts became mandatory (though seat belts did not notify others that you had been drinking, texting or speeding).

It remains to be seen about the effectiveness of these safety precautions, but the technology could and should reduce severe injuries and death to both Volvo drivers and others on the road.

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