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  (Source: edmunds-media.com)
New cameras, gadgets and built-in systems attempt to keep drivers from falling asleep at the wheel

Summer is 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 vehicles. 

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 reader's assessment. 

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.



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Dissapointing
By EricMartello on 6/3/2011 6:44:02 AM , Rating: 5
Rather than crap like this 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.




RE: Dissapointing
By nxjwfgwe on 6/3/11, Rating: -1
RE: Dissapointing
By Targon on 6/3/2011 7:52:41 AM , Rating: 4
How is a drivers exam going to help when some people are required by their job or family to drive late at night? Even the best drivers will need sleep, and if a situation requires you to be driving even when you want to be home and in bed, that is where many problems come from.

There are times when you WILL want to just pull over and take a nap when your situation just won't let you.


RE: Dissapointing
By therealnickdanger on 6/3/2011 8:15:56 AM , Rating: 3
More responsible drivers are more likely to pull over and not drive when sleepy, or they will plan appropriately to avoid the problem entirely. This doesn't mean everyone will make the smarter choice, but it would help.

Driver exams are much too simple as it is. Judging by how many people I see every day not using a turn signal, the most basic instrument available in every car, it's clear that no one understands or cares. It should be mandatory to take the written exam every time you renew your DL - maybe even every time you get a moving violation. Certainly better than a fine for two reasons: 1. "continued education" of drivers. 2. and be a total pain in the arse, serving as a reminder to stop f*cking up.

Practice doesn't make perfect, but it does make permanent.


RE: Dissapointing
By Chaosforce on 6/3/2011 8:29:36 AM , Rating: 2
Who the hell actually pulls over? You ever see a car on the side of the road late night just sitting there with somebody in it? Your post just sounds like good wishes not what actually you or others do.

IF anything my car should dispense a energy drink if it knows im sleepy and play loud music..........like what im sure most of us do when we are tired to keep us going.


RE: Dissapointing
By Omega215D on 6/3/2011 9:03:50 AM , Rating: 2
Actually I have seen lots of drivers pull over into rest areas on the sides of highways and sleep it off. I have done so a few times myself when doing more than 300 miles by car/ 400 motorcycle.

In New Jersey they have signs telling you to not be a hero and pull over if tired. Truckers are required to do so and will be pulled over if a cop notices the driver getting the sleepy weaves.


RE: Dissapointing
By MindParadox on 6/3/2011 10:02:57 AM , Rating: 2
the instant i feel like im having trouble keeping my eyes open, or paying attention, i pull over and get out, do 20 jumping jacks :P if i get to that tired point again, i pull over and take a nap. my life is just far more worthwhile to me than getting someplace fast


RE: Dissapointing
By Breakfast Susej on 6/3/2011 12:42:12 PM , Rating: 2
Most truckers don't comply with the regulations fully.

When I went to driving school it was considered a joke that you had to mark that you stopped for your mandatory 5 minute break every two hours. "don't forget to note where you are for your two hour stops when you fill them in later."

Many many many drivers run more than one log book, and some companies will flat out expect you to do this and push like theres no tomorrow.

I'm not making a judgement that it's right or wrong, simply pointing out fantasy versus reality. People get pushed into situations like this every day, and the alternative often is, you don't make your trip on time, you get fired. You get caught running three logbooks and fined, you also get fired, and the company feigns ignorance.


RE: Dissapointing
By therealnickdanger on 6/3/2011 10:54:11 AM , Rating: 2
There have only been two times in my life that I know of where I been tired enough to sleep while driving and one of those times I took a nap at a rest stop and the other time I took a nap in a McDonald's parking lot. It's not a huge deal compared to flling asleep at the wheel and going head on with a semi.


RE: Dissapointing
By rzrshrp on 6/3/2011 10:23:47 AM , Rating: 2
Drivers license exam question 45:
You should not operate a vehicle if you are feeling drowsy enough to impair your ability to drive. (T/F)

A question like that is going to ensure that people don't drive while tired? I don't understand what you think a test is supposed to do about this problem. You can attempt to educate people about the danger but not even the people that fall asleep at the wheel will answer false to the above question. They know what they're supposed to do. They just don't do it.


RE: Dissapointing
By shiftypy on 6/6/2011 8:36:48 AM , Rating: 2
Who is the judge whether I am drowsy ENOUGH to impair my ABILITY TO DRIVE?
I am kind of fortunate in that I never had a problem staying awake behind the wheel. Somehow driving is involving enough to keep me awake.
Awake but not alert. I can bet you that my reaction time and judgement WILL be worse after, say, being up for 24 hours or driving 8 hours straight, than after I had a couple of drinks. Yet in one case i get a fine and in other I play a game of "will I crash or not".

Some of those gadgets could do a test on reaction time and fast judgement. So far all they test is how fast will you get annoyed with beeps, chirps and flashing lights


RE: Dissapointing
By drycrust3 on 6/3/2011 3:54:54 PM , Rating: 2
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.

You seem completely oblivious to the real world. Some of the people you so eagerly criticise are better drivers than you, so they would pass your "stringent standards test" with flying colours because you are approaching driving from a "one hour test" perspective, not from a lifestyle perspective.
The people Tiffany is talking about should never have got themselves into this situation, where they are starting to fall asleep. Their problem didn't just start "1 minute ago", it started at least 24 hours ago. Their home environment may have made it difficult for them to get the necessary amount of sleep. Their company may be cold hearted when that driver complains about their work load, saying other drivers don't complain, which isn't true, they did but no one listened. So these people have to drive, but weren't taught how to see they are heading into trouble, or what approaches to take to avoid being tired.
Pilots that fly in areas where there is snow are taught how to be alert for whiteout, where the sky and the terrain look the same. They are taught how to see they are heading into trouble. In the same way all drivers should be taught how to see the signs of tiredness: Yawning, dropping eyelids, wandering attention, not knowing where that car in front of you came from, making small mistakes such as not indicating before doing a lane change, are all signs a driver needs to be alert for.
They should also be taught what to do to reduce tiredness, like drinking water or making sure there is adequate ventilation and the air isn't too cold or too hot.
An accident usually doesn't "just happen", it is the end of a sequence of events. By taking the right approach early in that sequence you can avoid that accident.


RE: Dissapointing
By EricMartello on 6/3/2011 6:36:46 PM , Rating: 2
No, they're not better drivers is they're getting behind the wheel of a car when they're tired, sick, drunk, high or otherwise impaired.

The purpose of more stringent testing standards would be to reduce the number of people on the road while at the same time improving quality of the drivers that are on the road. It would also have an EXPENSIVE annual fee, like $1,500, to keep poor people off the roads. They can use public transportation.

The type of test I have in mind involves a full road course including situations where the driver must successfully recover from fishtailing at highway speeds and losing traction on a turn (i.e. due to ice), as well as other tests about using brakes and steering in tricky scenarios.

To top that off, I would also require a specific endorsement for vehicles that weigh 5,000 lbs or more as well as a specific set of tests for large vehicles...since you often get morons in hulking SUVs driving like they're in a Fiesta.


RE: Dissapointing
By guffwd13 on 6/5/2011 12:48:31 PM , Rating: 2
um, yeah.... that post came across as racist, elitist, sexist and just plain stupid.

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.

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.

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.

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...

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.

and ps, very few suv's exceed 5000 lbs.


RE: Dissapointing
By EricMartello on 6/6/2011 10:41:35 AM , Rating: 1
quote:
um, yeah.... that post came across as racist, elitist, sexist and just plain stupid.


Actually, by making this moronic intro you pretty much negated the value of anything you say afterwards.

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.


No, it's not discrimination. People do not have a "right" to drive. Driving is a privilege and that's why you get a license for it. If it were a right it would be in the constitution or bill of rights. If you cannot afford the fee you cannot drive. Poor people drive shitty, unmaintained (hazardous) vehicles. You are probably poor. Oh, and here's another idiot claiming that someone is "probably a better driver than me". Why would I suggest this if I didn't know I was a good driver, dipshit? LOL

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.


I like how your attempt to discredit my post actually supports it. Your dumbass friend, or you, whichever it is, is exactly why driving needs to be a more exclusive privilege that isn't within reach of any moron who can count to 5 on one toe.

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.


THAT'S THE POINT, HOMEBOY! The basis of what I suggested is to eliminate the people who CANNOT drive from the roads. Yes, most people cannot handle a car even in mild situations like the ones I presented - which is why insurance rates and health risks are higher for all drivers. Training and testing would be performed in a controlled environment, so it would not be killing anyone...I really don't know or want to know what you were thinking.

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...


Well, fuel prices would plummet globally. Roads would be safer. Insurance rates would drop sharply... hmm what else?

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.


No, I don't...but last I checked you can choose where you live...so it's a non-issue. Public transportation extends out from the city to suburban areas in most states.

quote:
and ps, very few suv's exceed 5000 lbs.


Uhhh...no. Most mid to full-size SUVs are in the 6,000 lbs plus range. That is 3 tons, not that I expect you to know what that means.


RE: Dissapointing
By guffwd13 on 6/7/2011 4:44:49 PM , Rating: 2
Sweet found the third person in one week that is so extreme and blind to one side that they can't actually conduct a real debate.

your reference to gas prices and cheaper insurance as why an economic impact wouldn't be that big of a deal clearly demonstrates your lack of understanding of socioeconomics.

let me put it this way and not waste my time like i did with the other characters: the US dollar would be worthless domestically and globally if you took away the ability for many to drive. there would be no way for the majority of the population to get to work. public transportation systems were not designed and cannot be redeveloped to support that many people. the whole american infrastructure is based on the automobile. everything would fail. there would be no insurance company to support the few remaining drivers.

and it was my close friend and that dumbass ran a red light into her ... she now has 4-fused vertabrae in her neck and has lost full motion of her head. so yes i agree - those people should be removed from the road. problem is he had a revoked license and no insurance on top of that. so how exactly would restricting licenses work because clearly he lost his for a previous reason and still was able to get behind the wheel and almost kill someone? but thanks by the way for treading lightly in that area; i appreciate your lack of sincerity for possibly sensitive topics given your position on the issue.


RE: Dissapointing
By EricMartello on 6/8/2011 12:00:36 AM , Rating: 2
Seriously dude, don't waste your time. You're not fooling anyone. You don't know what you're talking about, nuff said.


RE: Dissapointing
By guffwd13 on 6/8/2011 3:18:27 PM , Rating: 2
clearly... and so well proven. i am enlightened.


Pull
By icanhascpu on 6/3/2011 6:46:52 AM , Rating: 2
The fuck over and take a nap.




RE: Pull
By MindParadox on 6/3/2011 10:03:15 AM , Rating: 2
exactly


RE: Pull
By Capt Caveman on 6/3/2011 11:08:56 AM , Rating: 2
I agree. When I drove cross-country and felt drowsy, pulling over into a rest stop for a 20 minute power nap made a huge difference.


Won't make a difference
By lowsidex2 on 6/3/2011 8:27:42 AM , Rating: 2
Very cool systems with innovative ideas and interesting technologies that I'm sure will be used in plenty of wrongful death court cases because none of them will actually stop the driver from continuing down the wrong.




By satveeraj on 6/3/2011 1:24:10 PM , Rating: 2
Gadgets, lights, sound warnings, car makers can do all they want but if are sleep deprived and behind a vehicle, you are a moron and are endangering not only yourself but others on the road. There is no excuse for stupidity.




Whew....
By chagrinnin on 6/3/2011 2:35:01 PM , Rating: 2
...I was reading this article on my cell phone and, man,...I started to nod off,...so I pulled over and took a nap.




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