General Motors has announced plans to install a new “eye-and head-tracking technology” in 500,000 new vehicles over the next three to five years, Autoblog recently reported. This could mark the beginning of a new era in which cars monitor their drivers to help prevent distracted driving accidents.

Through the use of cameras, real-time images will be captured and used, in conjunction with pre-programmed algorithms, to monitor the driver’s head and eye movement to determine whether the driver is spending enough time with his or her eyes on the road. Drivers who look away too often, such as is common when sending a text message or making a call, will be alerted. Even tired drivers who have begun to nod off at the wheel can be warned to either pull over and get some rest or take some other action to prevent falling asleep.

This tracking technology could become an extremely valuable tool in the prevention of distracted driving accidents, as most people do not even realize that in the time it takes them to look at a text message, the vehicle may have traveled the length of a football field or farther. Others believe multi-tasking while driving is a safe activity. In-car technology could help make drivers more aware that they have taken their attention off the road.

At some point, this type of in-vehicle technology could even be used to detect a driver’s identity to prevent auto theft, allow drivers to access apps and more advances. Insurance companies hope to be able to use similar technology to more accurately monitor driver behavior and better predict risk.

Believe it or not, driving is one of the most dangerous activities most people do. One of the main reasons driving is a risk is driver distractions. There are so many ways for drivers to become distracted that even relatively safe, conscientious drivers are not free from distracted driving risks.

Texting, talking on a cell phone, eating or drinking, talking to passengers, tending to personal grooming, reading maps, using a navigation system, and adjusting the radio or other equipment are some of the most common types of in-vehicle driver distractions, according to Distraction.gov, a government website.

Automakers have made massive strides in recent years in the research, development and introduction of new technologies that are expected to make vehicles safer and bring about a significant reduction in distracted driving crashes.

Despite Technological Advances, Drivers Will Remain Ultimately Responsible

While many positive technological advances are under development, it is important to keep in mind that this type of in-car technology could itself become a distraction. In cases in which a driver is unfamiliar with the technology or the technology malfunctions, a driver could lose focus, resulting in a serious or fatal collision.

As in-car technology continues to progress, and semi-autonomous vehicles begin to hit the roads, drivers must keep one thing in mind: It is the driver of a vehicle who will ultimately be responsible for remaining focused and driving safely. No amount of technological advancements by auto manufacturers can change that fact.

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