Car 6 months ago Share Tweet Pin Share First, they came for my speed, and I didn’t care. Then, they came to install cameras so they could watch me drive, and I revolted. Volvo has long been the company that has kept us safe. Years ago, we used to joke that everybody could buy a car, but people who loved their families bought a Volvo. Their reputation for safety and durability put those four-wheeled log cabins on the roads and kept them there. Always ahead of the field in safety innovation, they may not have set the design world on fire but there was no arguing they pushed the entire industry to get serious about safety long before it was remotely sexy, or even a primary goal. Bonus: Want to stay up to date on our latest Rare Norm news ? Volvo recently introduced a feature called Care Key on all models, beginning in 2021. It allows owners to make an adjustment so the vehicle will not exceed 180 km/h. I shrugged at this, mostly because it is optional and 180 is more than prudent for North American roads, where none of us can see an autobahn from our driveways. Now, however, they are wading into territory that requires pushback — or at least, discussion. Volvo “wants to start a conversation about whether car makers have the right or maybe even the obligation to install technology in cars that changes their drivers’ behaviour. Both the speed limit and the installation of in-car cameras illustrate how car makers can take active responsibility for the aim of achieving zero traffic fatalities by supporting better driver behaviour,” according to its press release. You can’t win the autonomous driving debate without looking like a cretin. Statistics indicate by removing driver error, we can reduce crashes and fatalities by upwards of 95 per cent. That’s a slam-dunk for the winning side. The problem is, in my small, dark heart, I hate the idea of not driving because I love it. I like driving and road trips, more than I like wine and cheese and new boots. If I’m stranded on a desert island, I want a vehicle — not music, movies, or a strapping cabana boy. A road trip in an autonomous car would compare to being stuck on the It’s a Small World After All ride in Disney World, though mercifully without the earworm. But I can’t admit any of that, because of course I don’t want the carnage to continue on our roadways. So, autonomous it will be, at some distant point in the future. Volvo, it seems, doesn’t want to wait. So, it’s introducing technology aiming to achieve the results of autonomous cars, but by using a different bridge to get from here to there. The ‘big three’ in vehicle deaths are speed, impairment, and distraction. Volvo has teed up all three with first the introduction of the Care Key, and beginning in the early 2020s, the plan to kit some models out with “in-car cameras and other sensors that monitor the driver and allow the car to intervene if a clearly intoxicated or distracted driver does not respond to warning signals and is risking an accident involving serious injury or death.” On background, I am firmly on the “nope” side of telematics — or squeal boxes — that monitor your every move as you drive. Usually presented as a way for you to save on your insurance by proving that you drive like a kid taking their road test, they record an abundance of personal information over which you have no control. Your newish car is already sending real-time information back to manufacturers as you drive, and in some cases, you’re giving that to your insurer, too. RELATED Volvo’s next cars will come with cameras to detect if its drivers are drunk Motor Mouth: Speed versus safety — is faster always worse? Do you ever stop to think what is being done with that information? The same way internet sites you visit seem to keep offering you things that are just your taste or size, vehicle systems will be coordinating with advertisers to tailor ads just for you. In fact, the auto industry can’t wait for autonomous cars so they can run billboards on your vehicle windows. You’ll be able to order anything and pick it up en route. Your information is already being sold. Now Volvo wants to add cameras to the equation? One of the world’s leading experts in privacy, Dr. Ann Cavoukian, a Distinguished Expert-in-Residence at Ryerson University, chatted with me last year, and her warnings stayed with me. “You have to ask so many questions about this type of information gathering, and determine what is actually happening to your information,” she said. I do believe Volvo is doing this in the name of safety, but I don’t believe we can divorce that from the very real threat that our privacy can be threatened. Here’s your fer-instance: I’m driving and swerve to avoid a cat. Volvo cameras decide I look drunk, and stop my car. Can I get going again? Are police called? Do I have to prove I’m sober and the cat is real, or does Volvo haul out video proving I was distracted? Who decides? But wait! This is about getting drunks off the road, right? Why do you care if they see you pick your nose? Because our cars already know if we’re weaving, texting, speeding, or nodding off. Sensors go off and things like pre-collision braking systems are getting better every model year. In fact, I’m on board with the last part of the Volvo intercedence: “… as a final course of action, actively slowing down and safely parking the car.” If a driver were experiencing a medical emergency, this is brilliant. But drunk, angry, excited, relaxed or nervous looks different on everyone, and I don’t know if I want someone viewing a camera image, making the call and taking over control of my vehicle. Volvo, I say this with love. But I’m going to say it, anyway: Get your cameras out the interior of my car.