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Study on preventing highway hypnosis will begin in a few weeks

There's been a lot of hubbub over distracted driving in the last several years. The federal government and automotive manufacturers are all working hard to help keep drivers paying attention to the task at hand while cruising the streets and highways of our nation. Distracted driving can be attributed to a number of the highway fatalities around the country each year.

While distracted driving typically focuses on things like smartphones while driving, those aren't the only things to be concerned about when behind the wheel. The Hyundai-Kia Technical Center and the University of Michigan have announced they have teamed up to fight another problem facing drivers that they call highway hypnosis. Highway hypnosis is when a driver begins to "zone out" and their reaction time slows.

"About one hour into a long drive, typically on a highway with a straightaway, you start zoning out and your reaction time slows down," said Joshua Maxwell, an ergonomics engineer at Hyundai-Kia Technical Center, in explaining this latest element of distracted driving to Edmundson Monday. "Your brain goes into an auto-pilot phase."

We'd wager just about every driver has experienced this phenomenon when you realize you have traveled many miles with little recollection of actually having done so.
 
Both Kia and Hyundai plan to work on warning systems to help prevent highway hypnosis and are planning to begin a study in the next few weeks using volunteer students on ways to prevent the phenomenon. Engineers working on the study plan to measure brainwave activity using EEG sensors to help determine the early onset of driver drowsiness.

Engineers participating in the study haven't come up with a specific warning system for vehicles yet to help reduce highway hypnosis and say that it could be visual, audio, or haptic system.

Maxwell said, "It [warning system] could be visual, audio or haptic. It might be the coffee cup icon, which is familiar to most people (as a drowsy-driving alert)."

Source: Edmunds



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