Keeping an Eye on the Road: The Surge in Driver Monitoring System (DMS)

Published on 19 Jul, 2023

With a significant number of road accidents attributed to distracted driving, the adoption of “Driver Monitoring System” (DMS) gained traction in the automotive industry. Governments worldwide are considering legislation to make DMS mandatory, while car manufacturers are embracing this technology to enhance the safety of their vehicles. Will DMS become a safety norm across the globe in the coming years?

As per the World Health Organization (WHO), a staggering 1.3 million lives are claimed by road accidents annually. Out of total fatal road accidents, 25–30% are caused due to distracted driving. The distraction could be due to sleep deprivation, anxiety, or personal/professional pressures. To eliminate this as a cause for accidents, OEMs introduced a new safety feature called “Driver Monitoring System” (DMS).

DMS is a technology that uses cameras and sensors to monitor a driver’s face, eyes, and body movements to detect distraction or abnormality. It prevents accidents by alerting drivers if they find signs of distraction.

Lexus took this pioneering step in 2006 by introducing DMS in a passenger vehicle. Toyota and Volvo swiftly followed suit. Ford, Cadillac, BMW, and other European manufacturers have also embraced DMS in select models.

A trend has been observed that all the safety-related features introduced by OEMs eventually were made mandatory by many countries, like seat belts, airbags, etc. There are also regulations underway to make DMS compulsory in vehicles in the US, EU, and China. This will drive the growth of DMS.

Current Regulatory Environment

In 2018, Jiangsu became the first province in China to enforce regulations mandating DMS for long-distance trucks and vehicles carrying hazardous goods.

In 2019, the European Union (EU) introduced a comprehensive safety regulation that mandates the inclusion of advanced safety features like DMS in all newly produced automobiles in the region. While currently restricted to vehicles with a certain degree of automated driving capability, the regulation is set to encompass all newly manufactured cars across Europe by 2026. To attain a coveted five-star safety rating from the esteemed Euro NCAP (European New Car Assessment Program), new cars are now mandated to incorporate driver monitoring capabilities.

In April 2021, a new law called the “Stay Aware For Everyone (SAFE)” Act of 2021 was proposed in the US Senate. Once approved, DMS would become mandatory for vehicles equipped with semi-autonomous driving systems. If the legislation passes, all new cars would be required to have some form of DMS technology installed by 2027.

Prevalent Technologies

In DMS, currently, eye recognition and steering wheel torque recognition technology are prevalent in the market. Eye recognition technology uses a camera to monitor the driver’s facial position as well as eye movements, and it sends an alert, either a beep sound or flashlight, if the driver is distracted or inattentive. Monitoring a driver’s face at night or in the dark or if the driver is wearing dark sunglasses can be difficult. To tackle this, driver-facing cameras are equipped with infrared light-emitting diodes. Steering wheel torque recognition technology uses a sensor to alert when the driver is not actively holding a steering wheel for a certain period (say 30 seconds).

As the adoption of DMS is growing, technology firms are expanding their focus beyond detecting driver drowsiness. These advanced systems are now capable of monitoring driver health and comfort, including heart rate and breathing patterns. In the future, these systems will even detect symptoms of a heart attack and alert the driver's doctor or guide them to a hospital.

Harman, a company specializing in connected car technology, unveiled an advanced DMS. This system can measure a driver's heart and breath rate levels to understand their well-being. Harman claims that this technology can also detect if a child is left unattended.

Auto OEMs and Sensor Manufacturers Readiness

All OEMs are gearing up for the rise of DMS adoption alongside the increasing focus on electric vehicles and autonomous driving. With a technology roadmap toward autonomous driving, nearly all OEMs are expected to incorporate DMS in their vehicles. DMS penetration is projected to reach 50% within the next five years and close to 100% within a decade at least in the US and EU.

According to industry experts, DMS will be introduced in high-end models initially, resulting in a price hike of approximately 5%, before gradually expanding to low-end models with a price increase of around 2%.

DMS will boost the sensor market on the back of the requirement of infrared sensors, radar sensors, laser sensors, and sensors in the steering wheel, etc., with camera-based sensors leading the growth.


DMS is expected to become compulsory in the US, Europe, and China in the near future. These are the key markets for almost all automobile manufacturers. All automotive OEMs will try to differentiate themselves from peers by introducing unique DMS features. This will be achieved by effective collaboration between automotive OEMs and technology companies specializing in camera systems, sensors, artificial intelligence, and data analysis. These collaborations will lead to new synergies. By embracing DMS and leveraging its benefits, OEM will be able to strengthen their business and adapt to the evolving automotive landscape.