The good news is that technology is currently being researched to detect when drivers are falling asleep behind the wheel. The University of Leicester is studying how to track a person’s tiredness through brain waves and eye movement.

Researchers are using LED lights and infra-red cameras to detect eye movements that are associated with drowsiness such as; rapid blinking, changing eye movement patterns, and the inability to focus on the road ahead. Researchers are using an EEG machine that sits on the driver’s head like a cap to read brain waves. With the data collected, a computer can then tell what combination of signals from brain waves and eyes movements indicate that a driver is not alert. Because the research is still in early stages, the equipment is bulky. Researchers hope that a more simple design could be ready within the next three to five years.

This technology is also helpful to researchers developing self-driving vehicles. A concern regarding self-driving vehicles is that the person driving the vehicle may not be alert if the vehicle would need to switch from self-driving to human operated. New technology to detect drowsy drivers may also be used in the effort to create self-driving vehicles.

Source: CNN, “Tech to detect when a driver is dozing off,” Heather Kelly, July 9, 2013