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Device developed to keep drowsy drivers awake

New York motorists might have the opportunity to buy a device called Steer that will wake them up if they fall asleep behind the wheel. Steer is worn on the wrist and measures biometrics to determine when a person is becoming drowsy. When a person's sweat secretion and heart rate changes, this indicates that the person is falling asleep.

Initially, the team at the company that designed the device experimented with having the device deliver vibrations to the driver. However, this was not a strong enough stimulus. The team then found that a minor shock was enough to wake the driver without causing harm. The Steer vibrates when it first detects a change, and then it follows up with a shock. The shock is also supposed to stimulate the production of cortisol and other hormones that keep the driver awake until it is possible to stop the vehicle and rest.

Drowsy driving is a serious problem even though it does not get as much attention as drunk driving. About 6,000 deadly crashes every year may be attributable to these drivers. The company's founder became aware of the seriousness of the problem when a friend of his fell asleep at the wheel, crashed into a tree and broke his collarbone. He then began looking into ways that such an accident might be prevented.

Even when these motor vehicle accidents are not fatal, they may result in injuries more serious than a broken collarbone, and other people may be injured as well. The driver who caused the accident is usually responsible for the costs incurred, and that driver's insurance company should pay those expenses. However, if the driver is underinsured or the insurance company's offer is inadequate, an injured victim might want to talk to an attorney about how to proceed.

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