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Using Steering Wheels to Fight Drowsy Driving

Drivers who fall asleep at the wheel or nod off for even a few seconds are a huge threat to themselves and everyone else on the road.  In today’s non-stop world, fatigue is a widespread, serious problem. Drowsy driving has been increasing in rankings in terms of roadway dangers and everyone from lawmakers to car manufacturers has been looking for ways to get tired drivers off the roads.

Now, inventors have developed a new steering wheel that can detect when a person is too tired to drive. The system was developed by Hoffman and Crippler (a German engineering firm) and Guttersberg Consulting, and it utilizes sensors to track a driver’s hand pressure and movements.

How It Works

A thin strip of sensors, called “Sensofoil,” is embedded underneath the existing leather or cloth coverings of the inside rim of the steering wheel. The Sensofoil strip is made up of thin layers of foil that have a weak electrical current running through them. When a driver puts pressure on these layers with his or her hands, it creates a short circuit that can be used to establish a driving pattern.

The driving pattern tracks a person’s typical methods of steering by using the frequency, intensity and location of the short circuits to establish the typical hand movements. According to a recent article in Gizmag, the short circuits are similar to the technology used in a resistive touchscreen.

If a driver falls asleep, has a heart attack or loses consciousness for any other reason, his pressure on the steering wheel will lessen and his hands will not move as much. Whenever the Sensofoil detects a substantial change in the driver’s established pattern, it sends a signal through the car to the driver to wake up and get off the road.

The steering wheel can detect a driver’s habits in any occasion — “regardless of whether [you] steer with a glove, or with a hand, with one finger, or even with [a] knee.” Part of the system is designed to safely direct the car in the event of an emergency. If the driver is having a medical emergency, like a stroke or heart attack, the system would be able to use both the autopilot to park the car and the GPS capabilities to alert police and emergency personnel.

Innovative Changes

Technology is just one way to combat road dangers like drowsy driving. Founder Denis Guzelocak, the man who had the idea for the smart steering wheel, said it came from a close call of his own that took place when he was driving on the highway and briefly fell asleep.

At Levine Law, our Denver personal injury attorneys represent anyone who has been injured in a car accident as a result of another person’s negligence. For more information regarding technology updates and car and driver safety tips, contact a lawyer at Levine Law for a consultation today.

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