When behind the wheel, drivers may find it easy to talk themselves into taking chances. They may feel tired, yet keep telling themselves they can make it to the next exit, that they know the route by heart, etc. They may be putting themselves and others in danger of a car crash.
Technology may soon replace drivers’ lack of caution: a vehicle that alerts the driver when it is time to pull over.
Drowsy drivers endanger lives
Experts often compare driving tired to driving drunk. If drivers drive while impaired by alcohol:
- Their reaction time slows
- They are less likely to recognize hazards
- They suffer lapses in concentration
The same holds true for fatigued drivers behind the wheel. Their chances of being in an accident triple compared to when they are more alert.
Despite the obvious dangers, about half of adults admit they drive when tired. About 20% say they have fallen asleep at the wheel in the previous year. A driver may even fall into a brief microsleep for a few seconds without realizing it.
New technology will keep drowsy drivers alert
Technology has created its fair share of problems when it comes to driving. Cellphones, navigation and entertainment systems, for example, are distractions. Now, technology is offering a potential solution.
The European Commission is taking steps toward addressing the problem of fatigued driving. Technology warning motorists of drowsiness and distractions will be mandatory starting in 2022. The commission says driver fatigue is a factor in 20% of accidents.
The safety technology involves cameras and artificial intelligence. The system detects signs of drowsiness, such as droopy eyelids. It also can tell if drivers are paying too much attention to their phone or a passenger.
The system warns drivers that it is time to rest via an audio signal or lights, or by vibrating the steering wheel. It also can reduce the speed of the vehicle.