Drowsy driving can be one of the biggest yet most unexpected threats on Virginia roads. While the dangers of driving under the influence are widely known, the hazards of driving while sleepy are far less publicized. However, sleepy drivers who doze off on the road could cause up to 6,000 fatal car crashes each year on American roads.
Many drivers turn to energy drinks, endless cups of coffee and blasting the radio in order to stay awake. However, a product called Steer is meant to keep drivers awake with small electrical shocks and pulses delivered when it detects a driver dozing off.
The wearable device was inspired by the designer's experience of a friend having a serious injury in a car accident after dozing off while driving. It has sensors that help to measure changes in sweat secretion and the driver's heart rate. It measures these characteristics when the driver first puts on the device. Then, if the user's heart rate decreases by 10 beats a minute or more as skin conductance lowers one unit, the unit will vibrate. These biometrics indicate drowsiness and the first signs of sleep. If skin conductance and heart rate continue to drop, the device delivers a gentle electrical shock.
The shock alerts the driver, but it does not cause pain. It is intended to increase the levels of hormones like serotonin and cortisol to promote wakefulness on the road. The alert can also inspire drivers to pull over and seek rest rather than attempting to push through.
Driving while fatigued can be just as negligent as driving under the influence. A person who has been injured by a sleep-deprived motorist might find it advisable to meet with an attorney in order to learn how to seek compensation for the losses that have been sustained.