Researchers at work on a “breathalyzer” for drowsy drivers

This article looks at a new technology that could be used to keep tired drivers off the road.

Many people underestimate just how deadly drowsy driving can be. While the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) blames drowsy driving on about 100,000 motor vehicle accidents each year, the AAA Foundation estimates that the true figure may be closer to 328,000, according to USA Today. While many people would never drive while drunk or on drugs, driving while tired is commonplace. That dangerous attitude towards drowsy driving may be due to the fact that as yet there is no breathalyzer-type device that can alert authorities to when a driver may be fatigued. However, thanks to new voice-recognition technology, that may soon change.

An underappreciate problem

Drowsy driving is one of the leading causes of traffic accidents in the country, but one that is frustratingly difficult to track and crack down on. While the AAA Foundation estimates that 6,400 fatal accidents each year are caused by drowsy drivers, it also notes that many crash reports don't include enough information about drowsy driving to determine the true extent of the problem. In many accidents, police have no way of ascertaining whether or not a driver was fatigued.

The risk from drowsy driving is very real, with one study showing drivers double their crash risk by missing just one to two hours of sleep in a 24-hour period. While tired drivers exhibit many of the same behaviors as drunk drivers - such as trouble maintaining a consistent speed or veering out of their lanes - it is much harder for police to nab tired drivers than it is to catch drunk drivers.

A "breathalyzer" for fatigue

Of course, when it comes to drunk drivers, police can use a Breathalyzer test, along with blood and urine tests, to determine how drunk a driver is. With drowsy drivers, police can only go by the driver's behavior, which may appear normal and alert thanks to the adrenaline that often kicks in when drivers are pulled over.

As CBS New York reports, a team of British researchers are working on an exciting new technology that could be used to keep drowsy drivers off the road. The technology analyzes changes in a driver's voice to determine how tired they are. While there is no talk yet of police using the technology to nab fatigued drivers, the researchers hope that trucking and railway companies will begin implementing the technology in the next few years in order to alert them if any of their truck drivers or train engineers are too sleepy to be doing their jobs.

Involved in an accident?

For those who have been involved in an accident, especially if it may have been caused by another driver who was drowsy, impaired, or otherwise negligent, it is important to reach out to a personal injury attorney. An experienced attorney can help crash victims understand what the next steps to take are, including by showing them how to go about making a claim for any financial compensation they may be eligible for.