Smarten-up the Car = Dumb-Down the Driver?

Smart Car = Dumb Driver?

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, distracted driving is the 3rd leading cause of car crashes.  The biggest distraction for drivers is the use of cellphones and other mobile devices. Drivers who type a text message while the car is in motion are six times more likely to be involved in a crash. Drivers are three times more likely if they reach for their phone, look up a contact or browse the internet.

The new safety features that are now available in vehicles are actually making drivers less attentive by offer features such as technology to monitor the distance between vehicles and alert drivers if they drift. “We are replacing one set of risks and creating a whole new set of risks,” says University of South Carolina law professor Bryant Walker Smith. Automakers have also increased the opportunities for distraction by making vehicles more Internet-connected.

In an effort to make distracted drivers in safer cars better drivers, automakers are testing new monitoring systems that will determine if a driver is too tired or too distracted.These artificial intelligence systems will watch drivers and evaluate their fitness behind the wheel. Some of these systems utilize “eye-tracking” sensors that may monitor physical characteristics related to the face and head to analyze inattention, such as rotation of the head, blinkrate and speed, width/height ratio of pupils and orientation of the eyeball. In the event of inattention, the driver would be alerted with a vibration or other signal.

Early versions of these systems could be available as soon as 2017.