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Wearable device targets drowsy car accident risk

A new device could be good news for West Virginia motorists embarking on a long-distance trip. The wearable unit uses biometric measurements in order to determine when a person is close to falling asleep. It then issues an electric impulse with just enough strength to rouse the drowsy driver. The inventors of the device hope that it can help prevent car accidents and injuries by alerting drivers to when they have reached the limits of exhaustion.

The wearable device, named Steer, was being financed through a crowdfunding campaign. The idea of shocking drivers to wakefulness has the potential to stir controversy, even if the goal is to prevent a car crash. However, as one inventor explained, the shock has such a low amperage that it causes no pain and only stimulates production of alertness hormones similar to coffee.

The device looks like a futuristic wristwatch and uses two sensors calibrated to the wearer's baseline in order to provide a shock at the appropriate time. It measures heart rate and skin conductivity, both of which fall in a predictable manner as a person becomes more drowsy. The lead designer explained the idea came about after a friend was in an accident after falling asleep behind the wheel.

Although it might not get as much publicity as driving under the influence, drowsy driving can be just as dangerous. It has been estimated that such behavior causes around 6,000 fatal accidents on an annual basis. People who have been harmed by a motorist who has fallen asleep behind the wheel might want to meet with a personal injury attorney to learn what recourse might be available.

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