Sleepy Driver Alarms Could Become a Mandatory Car Safety Feature

By Gary Cutlack on at

Trying to beat the traffic by leaving at 11:30pm to pull an all-nighter drive to Cornwall or Glasgow or Wales or somewhere, like you're Richard Hammond doing a funny thing where he races the post train? The cars of tomorrow might be able to help, with new tech to check whether drivers are nodding off possibly about to become mandatory.

The idea is simple and has been around in concept form for ages. A webcam or some sort of head positioning monitor would check for tell-tale signs of cranial droopiness, as the CD in the player reaches the end, calm descends, and the brain foolishly thinks that silence and darkness and warmth means it's time to go to sleep, even though you've got the cruise control locked in at 77mph and are in control of a car on a motorway.

The tech may also go one step further and sound some sort of alarm or set off a siren and apply the brakes when it senses that a driver is looking at his or her phone instead of that ice cream van surrounded by children, with European Commission officials said to be looking at ways to augment cars with the new tech -- whether carmakers and drivers like it or not -- within the next few years.

The UK's Transport Research Laboratory is behind the EC's latest safety push, with the TRL saying the tech works, is affordable, and could save lives lost by distracted drivers fiddling with their Spotify playlists on accident blackspots within a few years. [Sunday Times]

Image credit: Night driving from Shutterstock

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