Can New Technology End Distracted and Drowsy Driving?

driving while tired

How far should an automaker go to make sure the drivers of its cars stay safe by limiting the amount of distractions behind the wheel?

The latest news on battling distracted driving falls under the category of either creepy or cool, depending on your take on in-car technology. After my experience this weekend, though, I wouldn’t just call it cool, I’d call it potentially life-saving.

Lexus was one of the first to use technology to sound an alarm when it sensed a driver was not paying attention.

GM plans to step up the technology in a big way.

I nearly fell asleep on a 300-mile jaunt across the great state of Washington this weekend. I was exhausted after completing a 13.5-mile paddleboard race in Seattle, and keeping my eyes open after the sun went down on the drive home proved difficult. My wife was sleeping in the passenger seat of our Legacy as my eyelids got heavy. The heaviness disappeared after the shrill alarm of the car’s lane-departure system kicked in. That scared me enough to stay awake for the rest of the drive.

People do drive while drowsy, plus we have the new epidemic of driving while distracted by our phones. General Motors wants to invest in technology that keeps tabs on where drivers are looking and incorporate head- (and even eye-) tracking technology in 500,000 vehicles over the next 3 to 5 years.

An Australian company called Seeing Machines will supply the technology, which uses a steering-column-mounted camera to consistently monitor the driver.

This means that your car will know when you pick up your phone to write a text or absentmindedly stare longingly out the side window for too long. It could also mean much more.

Doug Newcomb says:

Seeing Machines devices could someday allow drivers to activate vehicle functions just by looking at a certain part of the dashboard and pressing a corresponding button on the steering wheel. They could also detect the identity of the driver to guard against theft or keep an unauthorized driver from operating a vehicle.

Some people will question if we need this much technology in our cars and worry about being constantly monitored every time we drive. Personally, I’m grateful to be monitored and think such technology should be standard in all new cars.

Do you want cameras constantly monitoring your actions as you drive?


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