Public awareness campaigns can only make so much of a difference. Decades after the creation of MADD, thousands of people still put others at risk by driving drunk. MADD has made a difference, but there are still dangerous drunk drivers on the road. And despite the best efforts of authorities to educate people on the dangers of driving while fatigued, thousands of people still do so, including truck drivers and operators of other heavy machinery.
The only way to keep people from driving while tired is to take the decision out of their hands entirely, which is very hard to do. Installing breathalyzers in every new car might make drunk driving less common, but most Americans wouldn’t go for it. And any attempt to install a device that requires Americans to prove they are awake would meet with similar difficulties.
Researchers with Jaguar and professors at Clemson University are both attempting to find a better way to address driver fatigue. The initial research is very promising, as it has been learned that:
- The inability of a driver to maintain a steady direction is the best indicator that the driver is too fatigued to drive safely
- Brain wave patterns sensed through the steering wheel can indicate if a person is too tired or too stressed to drive safely
- Heart rate and breaths per minute are both indicators a person is falling asleep behind the wheel
In the future, car builders might be able to integrate this research into their new vehicles, offering steering wheels that can sense if a person is becoming a danger to themselves or others. Because the steering wheel is doing its job behind the scenes, there is no annoying test a person has to pass to turn on the car, so drivers are more likely to accept the new technology. This could be especially beneficial for truck drivers, as the government could mandate this type of equipment for all long-haul drivers to make sure they are rested enough to drive safely.
Though the future is bright in regards to limiting accidents due to driver fatigue, the present is much scarier. Distracted and fatigued drivers continue to cause terrible accidents at high rates. If you or someone you love has been injured or killed by a fatigued driver, please contact an experienced lawyer. Only when these cases are brought to national prominence can we begin to get people to think twice before driving tired.