Should cars monitor your behavior behind the wheel?

Privacy is already an increasing concern in the U.S. Surveillance cameras alone capture our movements when we are walking, shopping and driving. And now, some vehicles will have the technology to observe our driving habits from inside our cars.

Automaker Volvo recently announced that it will install interior cameras to watch driver behavior by monitoring the driver’s eye movements. If the driver engages in dangerous behavior, someone from the vehicle’s on-call assistance program will call the driver. Volvo plans to have the cameras in its vehicles by 2020.

Volvo’s system is looking for the following risky driving behaviors:

  • The driver takes their hands off the steering wheel
  • The driver looks away from the road for too long
  • The driver’s eyes are closed
  • The driver seems to be distracted or under the influence
  • Failure to answer if the on-call service calls them

What happens if the driver does not respond to the on-call representative? The vehicle will slow down and possibly stop. Depending on the road conditions, traffic and other factors, being unable to control your vehicle in these circumstances is definitely frightening and potentially dangerous.

Will these cameras invade your privacy?

A senior vice president at Volvo said that the cameras are meant to watch for behaviors that can result in serious injuries and death. Another spokesperson stated that the cameras will not record video and that they will not gather data unless the user gives their consent.

The question remains, however, whether potentially sacrificing privacy is worth the added safety features. The debate over privacy concerns such as these is certainly not over as other vehicle manufacturers will likely develop their own similar safety features in the near future.

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