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Cars that can prevent drowsy driving auto accidents?

Distracted driving has garnered national attention as a public safety threat, and many realize how dangerous it is to try to do other things at the same time as driving. However, even those who would never use their cell phones while driving may not think twice about driving when they are sleepy. Many do not realize how dangerous it can be to drive when they are very tired, but public safety officials have begun to look at the threat that drowsy drivers pose to those on the road. 

Researchers are also developing technology that can help combat the problem of drowsy driving. Scientists at University of Leicester are working on a project that uses eye movements and brain waves to detect a person's level of alertness. 

Researchers aimed LED lights at a test subject's eyes and then had infrared cameras detect how the lights reflect off the person's eyes. The researchers also monitored the test subject's brain waves with an EEG. A computer recorded the reflections and brain waves and used the data to assess the test subject's level of alertness. 

Researchers note that the technology they are using is far from ready for installation in vehicles right now. However, they predict that they could have working alertness detecting technology in as few as three to five years.

Such technology could help reduce the approximately 100,000 auto accidents that the National Highway Traffic Safety Adminstration reports occur each year in the U.S. because of drowsy drivers. However, people cannot rely totally on their vehicles. People need to make smart choices about driving, including not driving when they are too tired to do so safely. 

Source: CNN, "Tech to detect when a driver is dozing off," Heather Kelly, July 9, 2013

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