Published On: Thu, Dec 3rd, 2020

Driver Monitoring Technology is Becoming Mandatory around the World

Technology is rapidly evolving, and the automotive industry is no different. Cars are becoming more futuristic than the vast majority of people ever imagined. It isn’t only automation and electric cars, driver monitoring systems (DMS) are becoming a significant tool to decrease the amount of accidents, injuries, and deaths that result from them. There is no arguing that the deaths on the roads are significant, DMS technology will ensure that drivers are attentive and sober. With new regulations comes new problems, and it won’t be as smooth as it sounds. Some are concerned that these mandates are representative of government overreach. 

What is DMS?

Driver monitoring systems are a form of automation that provides alerts when a driver indicates that they are inattentive, falling asleep, or driving intoxicated. While the technology can’t be expected to be perfect right away, it has been proven to save lives. According to McGinley Solicitors, a firm that files personal injury claims in Ireland, out of the 35,000 accidents in Europe that are fatal 40 percent of them can be attributed to a driver that isn’t attentive.  With the new European Union mandate that requires all new cars to have DMS technology, they are hoping that 140,000 serious injuries will be avoided by the year 2038. 

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photo/ Michael Jarmoluk via pixabay.com

 EU Mandate

The first large governmental body to mandate driver monitoring technology is the European Union. These systems have camera-based driver detection of drowsiness and inattention, which can include intoxication from drinking or drugs. Over the next four years, the new regulations will be gradually implemented. Starting in 2022, every new type-approved cars will have to come with autonomous driving capability that includes DMS. 

The EU is also trying to promote occupant monitoring systems (OMS) to detect unauthorized passengers in a vehicle. This can include child detection. The United States is also in the process of requiring this technology for child detection by 2025, which could lead to more laws regarding driving with a child in the car. 

US Legislation

Following the leadership of Europe, the United States has been drafting legislation to combat road deaths in the country. The US has some of the most traffic-congested roads in the world, which leads to more causalities. There are 35,000 people killed in crashes in the United States every year according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Lawmakers have been working to diminish this problem. 

The Moving Forward Act—an infrastructure bill worth $1.5 trillion—was passed by the House of Representatives this year. The goal of the bill is to make roads safer by mandating the installation of technology that detects inattentive drivers in new vehicles. The Moving Forward Act still needs to be passed by the Senate, then signed by the President, but should it be enacted into law it will regulate DMS technology in new cars. 

The Stay Aware For Everyone (SAFE) Act is another bill drafted this year is part of a broader bill reauthorizing surface transportation. It proposes that the United States Department of Transportation conducts research into DMS and how they could decrease distraction and alert the driver when they are inattentive, sleepy, or intoxicated. Within four to six years carmakers will be mandated to adopt DMS should the SAFE Act pass. 

New Car Culture in China

China is one of the most rapidly evolving economies in the world. With new prosperity, Chinese citizens are buying their own vehicles. This comes with all the changes of putting new cars on the road where there used to be bicycles and scooters. Not only is traffic congestion an issue, road accidents and deaths are as well. 4.3 million buses and trucks were sold in 2018, which is only a fraction of the cars introduced to the roads each year. 

It is obviously difficult to keep up with these advancements, but there are some big benefits. For example, China is able to employ technologies like DMS into their new car culture. Regulations that mandate the systems are underway in specific provinces as well as nationally. But with everything that concerns China, there is the inevitable truth that the Chinese government does not beat around the bush when regulating and controlling its citizens. 

While the DMS technology will save lives, there is also an argument debating whether or not our governments should take steps to protect us. The nanny-state realities are multi-faceted. It won’t stop at driver monitoring systems, other methods of control could be implemented to just keep people safe but to keep them in line. 

Author: Jose Calvo

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