less than three weeks away, and many are beginning to plan vacations to their
favorite destinations. Some prefer to road trip, and enjoy the thrill of
ever-changing scenery as they drive from city to city, or even country to
country. While many road trippers know to pack the essentials like clean
clothes, bottled water and sunscreen, automakers and electronics companies have
made a new road trip essential: gadgets that help you stay awake.
According to the National
Highway Traffic Safety Administration, driver's falling asleep at
the wheel account for 100,000 U.S. crashes annually, 1,550 of which result in
death. Clearly, fatigued drivers have become a safety hazard to themselves and
others, and electronics companies and automakers are looking to change that.
New devices for keeping drivers awake range
from cheap and easy solutions to high tech gadgets and systems built into
Some devices can cost as little as $10, and simply hook onto a drivers ear with
the intention of waking them up with a loud sound or vibration if their head
starts to fall forward. While the main advantage of this device is the low
cost, the disadvantage is that the driver may fall asleep before their head dips
forward, meaning that the warning would come too late.
More advanced systems use cameras to assess whether a driver is getting tired
or not. For instance, Mercedes-Benz utilized an interior camera system that
scanned the driver’s eyes and determined if they seemed drowsy. The problem
with a system like this is that accessories like sunglasses can skew the
Some vehicles have built-in systems to help keep drivers awake, such as the Mercedes E-Class and
CL-Class cars, which have a system called Attention Assist. This program
watches a driver's steering input at the beginning of a trip, and looks for
erratic changes as the trip wears on. If any drastic changes occur, the system
offers a warning sound and a visual saying, "Time for a rest?"
The built-in system in the Volvo XC60 works similarly, but checks for
micro-corrections in the steering after monitoring lane markers. The problem
with systems like these is that they're too sensitive and many drivers turn
them off because they "beep" too often and become annoying.
The final contestant in the sleep-prevention line-up is the Anti Sleep Pilot, which costs around $179 and is
the size of an Oreo. It collects information about the driver, such as age,
sleeping habits, types of driving, etc. Then, the device is placed on the dashboard
and presents a line of ascending lights that show the risk of the driver
falling asleep based on the 26 fatigue factors collected from the driver. The
driver sets a risk number on the device, and it calculates a safe driving time
before a break is required.
The Anti Sleep Pilot also chirps throughout a chirp, starting off as low,
spaced-out chirps. The Anti Sleep Pilot can be silenced by touching the
touch-sensitive device. As the drive wears on and the risk of fatigue
increases, the chirps become louder and occur at shorter intervals. When the
calculated break time arrives, the Anti Sleep Pilot sounds an alarm and the
lights flash red.
The Anti Sleep Pilot may not be as high-tech as the others, but it is
advantageous because it takes individual characteristics into account instead
of a general audience, and doesn't have too much room for error. It is also
available as an Apple iPhone app for added convenience. On the other hand, the
chirps are a bit annoying after awhile.
No matter which system you choose, it's a proactive step toward safer driving
experience for both you and other drivers on the road.
quote: I'd like to see more stringent standards for drivers' license exams. These kind of things only enable bad drivers to continue failing at driving.
quote: um, yeah.... that post came across as racist, elitist, sexist and just plain stupid.
quote: first of all. the $1500 thing can't ever happen because you can't discriminate based on class. plenty of poor people drive better than you i'm sure.
quote: second, you are apparently ignorant of the whole concept of a black market. actually making things that out of reach only increases the illegal activity that surrounds it. fake licenses will be a huge business for some. and furthermore, do you really think a lack of a license is going to stop someone from driving? my friend was t-boned last year and broke her neck to someone who had no license or insurance.
quote: third, do you realize that your hazard course idea would eliminate 75% (or possibly more) of drivers? most people, even with training, would never be able to negotiate that. can you imagine the liability associated in training people to exit a fishtail at highspeeds? the government would kill more people on the test course than people would on the road.
quote: lastly, do you realize how severe of an economic impact would happen if you remove that many drivers from the road. this isn't europe buddy, nothing happens without a car...
quote: oh and you apparently live in a city, cause you seem to think everywhere has public transportation. well let me inform you that many major cities in this country have no viable form of public transportation let alone areas outside of them.
quote: and ps, very few suv's exceed 5000 lbs.