Toyota Motor Corporation on Tuesday claimed a world first for an enhancement to its pre-crash safety system which can determine if a driver's eyes are properly open.

Toyota already fits a system to top Lexus models which can tell if a driver is not looking ahead.

TMC said it expects the new development, along with the system's current ability to determine the direction of the driver's face, to play an important role in reducing collision-related damage.

The eye-monitoring feature, which is to be offered in vehicle models scheduled for launch in Japan in the near future, uses a driver-monitoring camera and image-processing computer to determine the position of the driver's upper and lower eyelids.

If the system senses that a collision is imminent and also determines that the driver's eyes are not properly open - or, by using the face-monitoring feature, determines that the driver is not facing forward - it issues a warning to the driver earlier than it would without such driver-condition information.

A Toyota official told Kyodo News that, although the latest safety device cannot detect all drowsy drivers, it would help reduce traffic accidents.

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