Despite the fact that many people may believe that driving while intoxicated is more serious than driving while sleepy, drowsy driving can be just as deadly. According to the Centers for Disease Control, every year in the United States, up to 6,000 fatal crashes are caused by drowsy drivers. Pennsylvania motorists may soon be able to use a wearable device that can ensure that they do not fall asleep behind the wheel.
The device is worn on the wrist and emits vibrations and then shocks if it senses that the wearer is about to fall asleep. Referred to as Steer, the device has two separate sensors that can detect variations in the wearer's sweat secretion and heart rate, two body responses that are indications of when someone is near sleep.
The wearer's skin conductance level and heart rate are recorded when the device is first placed on the wrist. If the wearer's skin conductance drops by one unit from the baseline and the heart rate is reduced by 10 beats every minute, there will be a small vibration. If the heart rate and skin conductance fall any further, the device will then issue a low-voltage shock. The shock will increase the levels of the hormones in the body, such as serotonin and cortisol, that can stop the driver from falling asleep.
People who are injured in car accidents caused by someone who nodded off at the wheel should speak with a personal injury attorney about their legal options. While it is in most cases not as easy to prove that a driver was drowsy at the time of an accident as opposed to one who was impaired by alcohol, an attorney can often use eyewitness testimony and other evidence to demonstrate negligence.