Volvo will introduce cameras in its new cars to watch out for drink driving in a bid to reduce the number of deaths on the road.
The cameras will be one of multiple sensors that will measure if a driver is showing signs of intoxication, Volvo said on Wednesday.
The feature will be introduced from early next year, though the Swedish carmaker, which is owned by China’s Zhejiang Geely, has not yet announced how many cameras will be present, nor their location.
New Volvo cars will limit their speed or park automatically if drivers’ eyes are closed or stray from the road for long periods of time.
Other sensors will measure if a driver does not steer for an extended period, weaves across lanes or reacts slowly to other traffic. If a driver does not respond to warnings, Volvo’s on call support service will speak directly to the driver.
A Volvo spokesman declined to comment on whether police would be informed of lawbreaking. Volvo said it wants to “start a conversation about whether car makers have the right or maybe even the obligation to install technology in cars that changes their drivers’ behaviour”.
The driver monitoring will add to Volvo’s reputation for road safety , which invented the three-point seatbelt in 1959. Earlier this month the company said it will impose speed limits of 112mph on all cars from 2020 onwards.
Volvo also added another speed-limiting feature which will give owners the ability to set a top speed when lending their car to another driver.
The company, which sold more than 50,000 cars in the UK last year, aims to completely eradicate fatalities in its new vehicles by next year. Drink driving contributed to between 240 and 330 deaths on Britain’s roads in 2017, 16% of all fatalities, Department for Transport figures show.
“When it comes to safety, our aim is to avoid accidents altogether rather than limit the impact when an accident is imminent and unavoidable,” says Henrik Green, Volvo’s senior vice president for research and development. “In this case, cameras will monitor for behaviour that may lead to serious injury or death.”
The features will come as Volvo and other carmakers accelerate their development of autonomous driving technology which promises to eradicate the problem of drink driving as well as reduce the number of car accidents.
Volvo aims to have cars capable of full autonomous driving on the roadsby the early 2020s. It currently offers pilot assist autonomy, which aids drivers in accelerating, braking, and keeping to the correct lane.