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Device may help reduce numbers of drowsy drivers

Missouri motorists may be unaware that according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, up to 6,000 fatal traffic accidents every year arou are caused by drowsy driving. In response, a company called Creative Mode has developed a device that is worn on the wrist and is supposed to alert drivers who are in danger of falling asleep at the wheel. The founder of Creative Mode says he first became aware of the problem of driver fatigue after a friend broke his collarbone when he drifted off while driving and hit a tree.

The device measures skin conductance, which is related to sweat production, and heart rate to determine when a fatigued driver is dozing off. When the heart rate drops by a certain amount and the skin conductance changes, the device vibrates. When there is another drop in heart rate and change in skin conductance, the device delivers a minor shock. In addition to alerting the driver, the shock is supposed to increase the production of hormones that help keep the driver awake in order to find a place to pull over and rest safely.

The team had originally looked into alerting the driver with vibrations, but these were not always effective. To their surprise, a small shock was not harmful or painful for the driver and worked better.

Motor vehicle accidents that result from a driver falling asleep at the wheel might not always be fatal, but they can lead to injuries far more significant than a broken collarbone. Passengers or other drivers might be injured as well, and in some cases, those injuries could be catastrophic. Adequate compensation after such an accident could be critical in ensuring a reasonable quality of life for a person who is permanently injured, and it might be necessary to file a lawsuit in order to obtain it.

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