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Volvo takes bold safety steps

The famously safety-conscious Volvo is best known for making vehicles that protect their occupants from injury. However, the Sweden-based vehicle manufacturer will soon use 21st-century technology to protect drivers whether they like it or not.

The manufacturer will use onboard cameras to monitor the eye movements of the driver as well as sensors to ensure that hands remain on the steering wheel. The idea is that the car or truck will gauge if the driver is taking their eyes off the road to look at a device or displays symptoms of driving while drowsy. The camera will also measure to see if the driver is too intoxicated to safely operate their vehicle.

If the driver is deemed to be acting irresponsibly, Volvo's on-call assistance centers will call the driver to check in. The operators will warn the driver -- if the driver does not respond, the car will slow down or come to a stop.

Volvo's Vision 2020 initiative

This technology will be standard on all Volvo's vehicles by early 2020 as part of the company's bold Vision 2020 goal of eliminating motor vehicle-related deaths or serious injury. To that end, all Volvo vehicles will also have a governor that limits vehicles to a top speed of 112 miles per hour.

The pros and cons

Privacy advocates have raised concerns that these measures potentially invade the privacy of drivers. The measures may also leave some car buyers annoyed that the car and the manufacturer is making decisions for them. The manufacturer seems unconcerned with this criticism for now, likening it to the response seatbelts got when they were first legally required.

It remains to be seen what the impact of the new safety measures will be, but with distracted driving reaching epidemic proportions and some drivers continuing to drive while intoxicated, we hope that Vision 2020 will make the roads a safer place for Volvo drivers and other people on the road with them.

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