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Toyota Motor Corp. said Tuesday it has improved its precrash safety system by adding a driver-monitoring function that warns of an imminent collision when the driver is not looking straight ahead.

The device, which Toyota says is the first of its kind in the world, will be put in its Lexus-brand cars due out in spring 2006, the company said.

The system detects the orientation of the driver’s face through a camera mounted on the steering column and an image-processing computer, Toyota said.

It delivers a warning when it finds obstacles in the path of travel, and the warning is given earlier if the driver is not facing forward.

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