No Drowsy Driving

A short nap can make the difference

Driver Drowsiness Detection Saves Lives

Posted by on Sep 15, 2014

Driver Drowsiness Detection Saves Lives


This image describes the Bosch driver drowsiness detection system, which lets drivers know they are falling asleep at the wheel.

The Bosch driver drowsiness detection system lets drivers know they are falling asleep at the wheel.


The Bosch driver drowsiness detection system lets drivers know they are falling asleep at the wheel.

What’s the best way to stop a driver from falling asleep at the wheel? Driver judgment remains the most important factor, but new research shows that steering data can be used for a driver drowsiness detection system in cars.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that drowsy driving causes more than 100,000 crashes and 1,550 deaths per year. The top three factors in these crashes are:
Adequate sleep — Anyone who operates a vehicle without enough sleep is, in effect, driving drowsy.
Shift work — Those who work “graveyard” and others who, for work reasons, must drive between midnight and 6 a.m.
Sleep disorders — Those with unknown or untreated sleep disorders are at higher risk for nodding off while driving.

Is Driver Drowsiness Detection the solution?

Each of these factors are controlled by driver judgment. But there is one area of research – driver drowsiness detection – that has showed promise for warning drivers they may be driving while fatigued.
A 2012 study from Washington State University found that erratic steering patterns are a good indicator that the operator is driving while drowsy.
Also, researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the National Advanced Driving Simulator in Iowa also published a paper in 2012 that details the use of steering wheel angle data for spotting drowsiness-related lane departures.
Bosch Automotive Technology now sells a driver drowsiness detection system based on steering wheel data for automakers to install. Volkswagen offers it on certain Passat models as part of its “fatigue detection system.” Mercedes Benz calls its driver drowsiness detection “Attention Assist,” and Volvo is researching a system that uses dashboard sensors for driver drowsiness detection.

Like an internal rumble strip for drowsy drivers

In essence, these products are an in-car version of rumble strips. Those are the ribbons of textured pavement on the shoulders of highways that produce a loud rumble when tires cross them. Many of those surveyed in a Harvard School of Public Health study described rumble strips as lifesavers that brought them out of partial sleep or highway hypnosis before they would have crashed.

But the researchers noted that the drivers often failed to accept the most important reality of hitting rumble strips: if they did it once, they may do it again. In other words, a driver who is jolted awake by a rumble strip needs to do more than simply return to his lane.

Time-honored techniques to combat drowsy driving

If you get drowsy while driving, it is best to stop driving and rest, if even for a short time. With or without an in-car warning system, there is simply no better method to avoid becoming a part of drowsy driving statistics. The ideal, of course, is to sleep enough to begin with, but even as little as 20 minutes of sleep on the side of the road can be the difference between life and death.
The next most effective to combat drowsy driving is caffeine. It doesn’t matter the form, the equivalent of two cups of coffee have been found to make a drowsy driver safer.
Unfortunately, there is no evidence that brief exercise works, nor does it help to open the windows or turn up the radio. That is why driver drowsiness detection will prove to save lives.

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