Although driving while fatigued is not as widely recognized as a danger as driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is, it is believed to be responsible for up to 6,000 deadly car accidents nationwide each year. However, Michigan motorists may be able to purchase a device that shocks drivers who are dozing off behind the wheel and prevents these accidents from happening.
The founder of the company that designed the device became aware of the dangers of drowsy driving after a friend fell asleep behind the wheel and was in an accident. The friend only suffered a broken collarbone, but the man began looking for a way to help prevent these types of car accidents.
The team that developed the device, known as the Steer, first began looking at waking a person up using vibrations. However, these vibrations were not always detected in tests. The team then found that a low-voltage shock did not harm people but did wake them up.
The device is worn on the wrist and measures biometrics, specifically heart rate and sweat production, to determine when a person is falling asleep. It first delivers a vibration and then a shock. Designers say that the shock also produces hormones that wake the driver and that the driver should then pull off the road and sleep rather than risk driving while fatigued.
Occupants of other vehicles who are in a collision that was caused by a driver who was nodding off often face the need for expensive medical treatment. Drowsy driving can be a form of negligence, and injured victims may want to meet with an attorney to see how best to obtain compensation for their economic and non-economic losses.