Preventive sleep technology: important to save the driver’s life

Technology against driver fatigue. We’re on our way to a positive scenario, but it’s first necessary to understand how much drama we still have in our tracks. In most cases, sleep comes sneaky, shy, and disguised as cunning. And soon he starts to get attention from behind the wheel. Out of haste or stubbornness, the driver tries to hit him, reduce him, or cheat him. He opens the window, takes a sip of water and plays music trying to ignore him. Try to speak louder with an indomitable spirit or the person doing the absurd arithmetic “You can hold on until you get there” or “A little more.” The end of many of these harsh daily battles is tragic. The irresponsible always wins.

Scenes like this find no boundaries, they are universal. But Brazil occupies a prominent position in the world rankings. Fatigue deaths here contribute to our position as the fifth country in which people die most from traffic accidents, behind India, China, the United States and Russia, according to a United Nations survey at the end of 2019, before the outbreak of the pandemic. According to the Ministry of Health, in the same year, Brazil had approximately 32,000 fatal victims.

In this context, it represents the biggest sinister fatigue of national roads. According to a study conducted by the Brazilian Society of Traffic Medicine (ABRAMET) in partnership with the Brazilian Academy of Neurology and the Regional Council of Medicine, 42% of accidents are sleep-related and 18% are due to fatigue. Combined, 62% paint a complex picture of the scale of the problem and how dangerous it is to drive while drowsy or tired.

But this difficult picture has everything to be a part of the terrible past if the tendency of regulators, to adopt technology as a preventive weapon, is embraced by all the governments of the world.

The race to develop increasingly efficient and cheaper electric cars is also running in parallel in terms of vehicle safety. In the case of anti-fatigue, fatigue detection technology tends to become global and mandatory and to implement intelligent systems in all vehicles leaving factories.

In the past, having a camera with a sensor capable of signaling to the driver that he was drowsy or tired and at risk of an accident was a matter of high-tech cars, and a selection of the top lines of every automaker.

Today, the reality is quite different: devices are accessible, micro-technology has advanced a lot and societal pressure is beginning to apply for fatigue prevention to be democratized and available in all vehicles.

We know that investing in leadership education is key, but it faces structural barriers, in addition to its always long-term implications. Requiring equipment to be mandatory to factory standards is to promote and accelerate life-saving changes.

So has the European Union, which from this year will require all automakers to deliver vans, cars, buses and trucks with a sensor that detects driver fatigue or distraction. The equipment is part of a package called your vehicle’s new safety features. According to the European bloc, 90% of accidents are due to human error and new technologies are necessary to mitigate this challenge.

Europe provides a powerful example and fosters debate in a global context. On the other hand, automakers themselves are racing to select the most efficient and safe technologies in a healthy competition in which drivers benefit the most. After all, the introduction of a system with advanced sensors, which includes artificial intelligence and is able, for example, to generate reports that are sent to a mobile application, is something that adds to the brand.

Having standard equipment in new cars is progress, but there are still timid discussions about enforcing the installation in used vehicles, in order to speed up the reduction of accidents, in much the same way as the mining industry, where even fleets with older vehicles have systems to detect drowsiness;

We know that having the technology in itself does not guarantee that the driver will not be at risk of driving tired or drowsy. It also discusses whether these sensors should be required to keep records of warning disobedience. Artificial intelligence is already able to associate this alert with a command that, for example, automatically reduces the vehicle’s speed if the driver ignores the warning.

The trend is that technology is increasingly able to reduce the irresponsibility factor for those who get their hands behind the wheel. Sleep is inherent in any human being, but today we already have the solution so that it does not pose a threat to those who drive and to those who walk innocently on the sidewalk or near the shoulders. By targeting our eyes, the smart lens will not only illuminate an alert but also prevent a possible accident, acting as the “standard guardian angel” inside all vehicles on the planet.

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