SAFE Act Seeks to Monitor Distracted Driving

Date: August 6, 2020

Author: Anchal Pandey

On July 1, US House of Representatives has passed a bill that could result in making driver monitoring system a mandatory feature in the vehicles.  According to NHTSA, Each day in the United States, approximately 9 people are killed and more than 1,000 injured in crashes that are reported to involve a distracted driver. This will help in minimizing driver distraction and driver disengagement.

Distracted driving is anything that can take your hands off the wheel or eyes off the road or mind off driving. It could be because the driver is tending to kids or passengers in the back seat, eating or checking GPS. Even if a driver is attentive, it might take some time for the driver to see a hazard and react to it. Before coming to an absolute stop, the time taken by the driver to see a hazard along with the brain to recognize, react and physically hit the brake is nearly the length of a football field.

That’s why Driver Monitoring is so much important for driver and road safety.

Stay Aware For Everyone (SAFE) ACT

The “Stay Aware For Everyone” (SAFE) Act of 2020 is introduced in the US Senate to improve automotive and traffic safety across the USA.  Its main purpose is to reduce distracted driving.

It’s an issue that is only increasing with the increase of “Driver Assistance” technologies and semi-autonomous vehicles.

For L3 and higher automation level, the driver is expected to take control of the vehicle whenever required. For semi-autonomous vehicles, the transition duration between the auto and manual mode is very small. So, the whole process of handing over the vehicle depends on the responsiveness of the driver. That can only happen if the driver is willingly focused on driving or is being monitored.

The SAFE Act requires the Department of Transportation to analyse how driver monitoring systems can prevent distraction, driver engagement, automation complacency and the foreseeable misuse of advanced driver assistance systems. It is expected to make rules to mandate the installation of driver monitoring systems in the vehicles based on the results of this study.

According to the Senate bill, the Automakers are expected to comply within two model years after the final rule takes effect. Hence, soon all of the vehicles will have DMS as a permanent feature.

Driving while texting

Fig 1. Distracted driving

Last year, Florida imposed “Wireless Communication while driving law” for making drivers put their phone down and focus on driving. It allows the law enforcement authorities to stop vehicles to issue citation to drivers that are texting while driving.  As of March 2019, texting while driving is banned in 47 states and the District of Columbia.  These laws will reduce if not eliminate distracted driving.

All of the vehicles should have driver monitoring system that can detect whether the driver is alert, monitoring the road, drowsy or distracted.

Keeping these points in mind we have been working on driver monitoring system which can provide real-time detection of driver drowsiness and in-attention using a single low-power camera in the vehicle.

Our DMS uses a hybrid combination of advanced facial analysis algorithms and deep learning models to assess driver’s alertness and focus under challenging environmental conditions. We use machine learning model for face detection & land-mark regression and shallow & Deep CNN model for estimations and classifications.  If you are interested in knowing more about the product then you can leave a mail at

The Road Ahead

Harnessing the potential of driver monitoring to reduce distracted driving can help in minimizing road accidents. DMS is now in trend and will be until fully-autonomous vehicle enters the market.  Till then DMS is needed to combat drowsy and distracted driving. Therefore, this legislative action will be taken when it is critically needed.

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