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New Vehicle Technology May Detect When A Driver Is Intoxicated Or Driving While Distracted

Newer vehicles are increasingly being equipped with advanced safety features and technology. Many cars now are capable of detecting and alerting you if the vehicle is veering outside the lane of travel, when a vehicle is traveling in the driver’s blind spot, and others. Volvo has traditionally been a pioneer in manufacturer safety advancements. By 2020, they plan to add sensors or cameras that monitor driver behavior from inside the vehicle. In 2017, there were over 10,000 alcohol-related fatalities and many more from distracted driving. These advancements may be able to significantly prevent such occurrences.

Driver Monitoring System

The auto manufacturer, which is based in Sweden, will have cameras positioned inside the vehicle along with various types of sensors. On, this technology was referred to as “big brother.” It is likely that cameras will be positioned in the vertical “A-pillars”, which would allow for a broad view of the driver’s seating area. The dashboard will have indicators that can illuminate or provide an audible warning. It is not known yet if the vehicle will have the capability of actually stopping or not.

Vehicle Capabilities

The system is described by the manufacturer as having the ability to intervene when a driver is under the influence of alcohol or distracted. Volvo is considering a call center that would attempt to monitor the situation; however, calling the driver may be viewed as another distraction. The cameras are said to be capable of tracking the eyes of the driver to determine if they are not watching the road ahead.

The different sensors will be capable of detecting irregularities involving steering, such as if the vehicle is weaving or otherwise being operated erratically. These changes are expected to be part of the standard features included in all new vehicles. Volvo spokesman Jim Nichols says the “next-generation” systems will be implemented worldwide—not just in the U.S.

Company Vision

The company’s CEO Hakan Samuelsson states that “by 2020 no one should be killed or seriously injured in a new Volvo car.” This has long been one of the primary selling points among consumers. They estimate that 1.3 million people annually are killed in traffic accidents—a trend they hope to reverse. Recently, the company announced that all their vehicles will be unable to exceed 112 miles per hour by the year 2020 as a safety measure.

Sharing Information with Authorities?

Could the vehicle notify the local authorities if a driver were behaving dangerously? It does not appear that this would be a feature of the system. Actually, the camera footage is unlikely to be retained because it is designed as a “real-time” system of alerts. The system would also not be capable of transmitting any footage to external sources.

Alcohol-Related Accident Data: Washington D.C.

In the chart below, it is clear that the percentage of traffic fatalities in Washington D.C. that are alcohol-related in much higher than the national average.

Data for 2017 [1]

Washington D.C.

National (U.S.)

Total Alcohol-Related Fatalities



% of Overall Fatalities Involving Alcohol



Alcohol-Related Fatalities per 100,000 people




About the Author

Charles GilmanCharles Gilman
Charles Gilman

As managing partner and co-founder of Gilman & Bedigian, it is my mission to help our clients recover and get their lives back on track. I strongly believe that every person who is injured by a wrongful act deserves compensation, and I will do my utmost to bring recompense to those who need and deserve it.


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