Volvo Plans to Equip Cars with Sensors to Stop Drunk or Dangerous Drivers

By Niclas Rolander | March 20, 2019

Volvo Cars is planning to fit its next generation of autos with cameras and sensors that will detect drunk or distracted drivers and intervene to stop dangerous rides.

From the early 2020s, Volvos will have the ability to notice if a driver is clearly intoxicated or erratic and allow the car to intervene if the person behind the wheel doesn’t heed warning signals. The auto could then limit the speed, alert an assistance service or, “as a final course of action,” slow down and park, Volvo said in a statement Wednesday.

The initiative follows an earlier announcement from Volvo that the company will introduce a 180 kilometers-per-hour speed limit on all models from 2020. Chief Executive Officer Hakan Samuelsson hopes that the measures will save lives and make car insurance less pricey for Volvo buyers. The company is also hoping that insurance companies will be able to offer more favorable insurance policies to Volvo owners who use its safety features.

“Shouldn’t insuring the club-180 be more favorable than insuring the ‘free speed for free citizens’ community?” Samuelsson said, alluding to a popular phrase in German arguing against speed limits. Insurers, he added, are “tough guys and they will want to see proof, but I’m quite sure there will be less accidents.”

The behaviors that Volvo hopes that its cameras will be able to detect include lack of steering input for extended periods, drivers with their eyes closed, as well as “extreme weaving across lanes” or “excessively slow reaction times,” Volvo said.

Volvo also plans to introduce a feature, the Care Key, to enable temporary speed limits for customers lending their car to a younger relative, for example.

“Many want to be able to share their car with friends and family, but are unsure about how to make sure they are safe on the road,” Samuelsson said in the statement. “The Care Key provides one good solution and extra peace of mind.”

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