Because drivers cannot seem to be trusted to keep their cellphones from distracting them while operating a vehicle, some carmakers are taking safety measures into their own hands. Volvo, Subaru and others are introducing technology that monitors a driver and determines whether that person is not watching the road. These systems warn a driver or, in some cases, go as far as slowing the car down.
This step to increase road safety may seem intrusive, but carmakers emphasize their systems do not use video to monitor drivers. Instead, they incorporate infrared technology or other means to measure whether a driver is drowsy or a vehicle is veering out of its lane.
An increasing problem
Distracted driving in the U.S. is widely viewed as an epidemic among all age groups. Statistics indicate that assertive protective measures against distracted driving may be warranted. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that 3,166 people were killed in 2017 due to distracted driving.
TeenSafe, makers of software that allows parents to monitor their teen-ager's phone usage, reports that:
- One in four car accident fatalities is caused by texting while driving.
- Driver distraction is responsible for more than 58% of teen accidents.
- More than 80% of drivers admit to blatantly hazardous behavior while driving, such as changing clothes, steering with a foot, painting nails or even shaving.
MarketWatch reports that Volvo plans to roll out eye-tracking cameras in several models over the next few years. The cameras monitor motorists' gazes and send an alert or limit a car's speed whenever a driver's eyes are averted for too long.
In 2018, Subaru began installing a driver-monitoring system in Foresters that beeps if a driver's eyelids droop or their focus drifts away from the road for extended periods. The company plans to include the system in additional models in 2020.
Rather than use inward-facing monitors, Daimler AG, maker of Mercedes Benz, and Nissan Motor Co., use detection software that monitors a driver's steering patterns to determine if it veers out of its lane too often.
When distracted driving disrupts life
An accident caused by a distracted driver can turn someone's life upside down by causing serious injuries or death. Injured parties or surviving family members should protect their rights when this occurs by enlisting the services of a knowledgeable personal injury lawyer.