Volvo knows best: In-car cameras can slow or stop suspected drunk or distracted drivers

Volvo will install in-car cameras aimed at drivers to recognize impaired or distracted driving—and potentially stop it—CEO Hakan Samuelsson announced in Sweden on Wednesday.

The in-car cameras will be installed on new models built on the automaker’s newest platform, called SPA 2. Those new cars will arrive early next decade, according to a Volvo spokesman. Previously, Volvo said that cars built next year, and sold as 2021 models, will be limited to a top speed of 112 mph to reduce speed-related fatal crashes.

Volvo in-car camera system

Volvo in-car camera system

The in-car camera system will include two cameras positioned in the top corners of the windshield. The stereo camera setup will monitor the driver’s vision to ensure the driver is awake, alert, and aware of their surroundings by monitoring where the driver is looking and if the driver is making sudden or slow corrections. If the driver isn’t paying attention, the car will attempt to alert the driver and slow the car. If that fails, a Care by Volvo representative will call into the car to connect with the driver. If that fails, the car will pull over, stop, and call emergency services.

Volvo hasn’t yet decided if drivers can disable the system, according to safety engineer Trent Victor. 

On Wednesday, Volvo also announced a guest-driver safety key that can limit top speed or radio volume in cars, similar to a teen driver key. Called a “Care Key,” the guest-driver key will be standard on all 2021 and newer Volvos. Volvo USA spokesman Dean Shaw said the automaker could introduce the safety keys sooner.

The announcement is part of Volvo’s Vision 2020 plant that was first laid out in 2008 and aimed at reducing or eliminating fatal crashes in Volvos.

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