Asleep at the Wheel? Help is coming

Asleep at the Wheel? Help is coming

Those long, boring motorway trips sure can lull you into the land of slumber pretty quickly, especially if you are already tired. When you find yourself slapping your face to stay awake then you know you’re in trouble. You know you should pull over, have a rest, take walk, drink an energy drink, but you just want to get to your destination and you figure you’ll be ok. Next thing you’re woken by the rumble strip at the edge of the lane…if you’re lucky.  But now a new seatbelt is being developed to wake you before you actually nod off.

The seatbelt monitors the driver’s heart rate and breathing through a series of sensors woven into the seatbelt webbing and the seat cover. If the rates drop below a certain point an alarm goes off. Heart rate and breathing rates are a good indicator of fatigue before the obvious indicators such as yawning and closing eyes set in. The Harken system picks up on these early indicators before the usual symptoms appear.

Even before you slide into dream land your ability to react and concentrate is reduced, so you don’t have to fall asleep to be dangerous. In Europe it’s estimated that 20-35% of serious accidents are caused by fatigued drivers so this new system could be a real life saver.

Personally I’d like a version that gently nudges you and offers you a nice cup of coffee as you open your eyes. I’m pretty sure this will be an option on top of the line Mercs before long.

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