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Volvo to put cameras and sensors in its cars to tackle drunk driving

Key Points
  • There were 10,874 deaths in the U.S. from drunk driving crashes in 2017, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
  • Actions Volvo Cars' system could take include limiting the speed of a vehicle or slowing it down and parking in a safe place.
Volvo Car Group

Volvo Cars is set to install in-car cameras and sensors to monitor drivers for signs of intoxication and distraction.

The firm said the technology will be used to monitor drivers and, when needed, enable the car "to intervene if a clearly intoxicated or distracted driver does not respond to warning signals and is risking an accident involving serious injury or death."

Actions the car could take include limiting speed to slowing down and then parking the car in a safe place. Installation of the technology will start in the early 2020s.

Wednesday's announcement represents the latest attempt by the company to boost the safety of its vehicles. At the beginning of March, it announced it would introduce a 180 kilometers per hour (112 miles per hour) speed limit on all its cars from 2020.

"When it comes to safety, our aim is to avoid accidents altogether rather than limit the impact when an accident is imminent and unavoidable," Henrik Green, Volvo Cars' senior vice president, research and development, said in a statement Wednesday.

"In this case, cameras will monitor for behavior that may lead to serious injury or death," Green added.

The system, Volvo Cars said, will be on the lookout for a range of potentially dangerous behaviors. These include drivers who display a "complete lack of steering input for extended periods of time" or have their eyes closed or off the road for long periods. Technology will also monitor "excessively slow reaction times" and "extreme weaving across lanes."

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), nearly 30 people in the U.S. die each day because of drunk driving crashes. There were 10,874 deaths in the U.S. from drunk driving crashes in 2017, the NHTSA adds.

"There are many accidents that occur as a result of intoxicated drivers," Trent Victor, professor of Driver Behaviour at Volvo Cars, said. "Some people still believe that they can drive after having had a drink, and that this will not affect their capabilities. We want to ensure that people are not put in danger as a result of intoxication."

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