Drowsy Driving on the Rise: Can Tech Keep Drivers Awake?

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A 16-year-old boy was killed on Sunday morning after being struck by a driver who was asleep at the wheel. The victim was standing on the shoulder of the Florida Turnpike by his car when he was hit by the motorist, who fell asleep and veered off the road. This collision highlights an unnerving trend of drowsy driving in the Orange County area — a type of accident that some believe could be easily prevented with the right technology.

The victim’s father thinks the driver made a poor choice by choosing to drive while drowsy.

“Had she been more cautious and alert, we would not be here,” he told the Orlando Sentinel.

And while drivers should refrain from driving when they know they’re too tired to be able to operate their vehicle responsibly, many motorists have difficulty telling if their sleepiness is an impairment, unlike the more obvious impairments of alcohol or drugs.

In fact, people who have been awake for 24 hours or more have the same level of cognitive deficits as individuals with a blood-alcohol level of 0.10%, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But motorists who are driving while drowsy often don’t realize they’re exhibiting signs of extreme impairment until it’s too late.

That’s where new technology comes in.

Collision Warning Systems

Once a feature found only in new luxury cars, collision warning systems are now becoming a part of the mainstream in car safety features. Collision warning systems work by using cameras or lasers to detect objects in the driver’s path, and compute the time it would take to collide into them. If the car detects that a collision is likely, the collision warning system will beep, flash lights, or even autonomously brake for the driver.

Although this feature was originally designed to intervene during instances of distracted driving, this feature could be integral in preventing direct collisions by braking if a driver falls asleep at the road. However, collision warning systems are less effective in preventing the type of road veering that is characteristic of many drowsy driving accidents.

Anti-Fatigue Technology in Cars

There are more advanced examples of car technology that are specifically designed to reduce drowsy driving accidents. Many examples of anti-fatigue technology in cars use input from the steering wheel and gas pedal to detect if a driver is falling asleep, and will use audible or visual alerts to try and wake them up. Even newer systems make use of cameras, which can detect signs of fatigue on the driver’s face, such as closed or rapidly blinking eyes.

Bluetooth Device to Warn Drivers

Drowsy driving is such a notorious issue that various device makers in the tech industry have attempted to remedy it. One startup company, Vigo, has created a bluetooth device worn in the ear that uses biometrics such as blink rate and duration of eye closure to determine when you’re falling asleep or not.

If you are, the device will alert with you vibrations or music to try and wake you up. The device has been advertised for use in the car to prevent drowsy driving, along with other places where dozing off can be inconvenient, such as work or school.

Rumble Strips

Beyond technology in cars, innovative road design has come into play to help prevent drowsy driving accidents. Rumble strips — lane borders made up of deep grooves — have been placed along the shoulder or centerline of many busy highways to alert drivers who are drifting out of their lane due to fatigue.

Rumble strips installed along the shoulder of the road in particular have been shown to reduce distracted and drowsy driving crashes by 40 to 80 percent, according to a study by the Federal Highway Administration, as the majority of drowsy driving crashes involve the driver straying from the roadway.

Until technology has come up with a foolproof solution to the troubling issue of drowsy driving, motorists in the Orange County area must continue to worry about accidents caused by the negligence of these drivers. If you have been hurt in an accident caused by another driver, whether they were engaged in drowsy driving or texting and driving, our attorneys could help.

Read more to learn how our car accident attorneys in Orlando will fight to get the compensation you and your family deserve after a car accident. If you are ready to pursue a claim, please fill out our free, no-risk case evaluation form today.

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