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Researchers find alternative to help drowsy drivers

While distracted driving has become a national safety issue, it can be argued that drowsy driving is an equally dangerous practice that can lead to catastrophic results. Indeed, technological advancements, such as blind spot warning systems, and lane integrity detection systems may help to prevent drowsy driving accidents, but there are some who believe that the current video-based technology may not be as helpful.

Instead, researchers at Washington State University at Spokane believe that their invention is a better alternative. They reportedly have created a drowsy driver detection system that relies upon movement from the steering wheel to detect abnormalities that will then alert a driver who is likely falling asleep while driving

Researchers based their findings on a study involving participants in a 10 day experiment that measured different levels of driver fatigue. They wanted to find out if there were better ways to detect drowsiness before a crash was imminent. Their analysis led them to steering wheel movements as the best predictor of drowsiness.

Additionally, researchers found that their invention could possibly be cheaper and easier to install on existing vehicles compared to video-based systems. It could be installed by auto manufacturers as an upgrade accessory or as an after-market addition.

It remains to be seen whether Arizona drivers will add the technology, or if manufacturers will include it on upcoming models. Nevertheless, driving with enough rest is part of the reasonable care that is required by all drivers on Arizona roads. Failing to use such care could leave an offending driver liable in the event of a crash.

Source: “WSU innovation improves drowsy driver detection,” Judith Van Dongen, April 24, 2014

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