Fatigued driving is a very real danger in Massachusetts and across the nation. Motorists, whether they are driving for work purposes or simply travelling from point A to point B after a long day may find it difficult to keep their eyes open while on the road. Unfortunately, this can lead to devastating car accidents. However, one new invention may provide a way to reduce drowsy driving in our nation.

A professor from Hong Kong Baptist University has created a smartphone mechanism that would detect driver fatigue and then provide an alert to the drowsy driver. The goal of this mechanism is to lower the number of car crashes caused by drowsy driving.

Through this new mechanism, a smartphone’s real-time video would capture the motorist’s facial features and analyze them for signs of sleepiness. The driver would keep his or her smartphone close to the steering wheel, with the camera positioned in a manner facing the driver. If the camera detects signs of sleepiness, such as drooping eyelids or falling asleep for a second or two, an alarm would sound. To stop the alarm, the driver has to either speak to stop it or stop it manually, which in turn results not only in waking up the driver, but alerting the driver to the fact that they are too drowsy to continue driving.

According to the professor, this mechanism could help all motorists, especially those who drive for a living and work long hours. Companies with vehicle fleets may be especially interested in utilizing this new mechanism, as may insurance companies. This mechanism has the advantage of necessitating only a smartphone, rather than vehicle sensors, which can be costly and hard to update. This makes the new mechanism, which is portable and would be less costly, more beneficial to motorists as a whole.

Systems like this are in great need. United States government statistics show that over 30 percent of crashes in the nation involving heavy vehicles are caused by drowsy driving. This causes $3 billion in economic losses annually. In the end, any efforts to reduce fatigued driving in our nation are a step in the right direction, especially if they reduce the number of car accidents in Massachusetts and across the nation.

Source: Science Daily, “Smartphone app detects and alerts sleepy drivers,” June 16, 2017