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Developers say device will help prevent drowsy driving

North Carolina drivers who experience fatigue while behind the wheel may be able to purchase a device that is supposed to detect and wake up drowsy motorists. The product is worn on the wrist and measures heart rate and sweat to determine when a person is falling asleep.

The team at Creative Mode that designed the device initially tested it with vibrations to wake up the driver. However, this was not always effective. The team then looked at electric shocks and found that at low levels, they could be both painless and harmless but enough to wake a driver. Furthermore, the shock is supposed to stimulate the production of hormones such as serotonin that can help keep a driver awake long enough to find a place to stop and rest.

The founder of Creative Mode says he did not realize drowsy driving was such a problem until a friend was in an accident after falling asleep while behind the wheel. That friend hit a tree and suffered only a broken collarbone, but drowsy driving can be fatal. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there may be as many as 6,000 deadly motor vehicle accidents every year that are caused by driving while fatigued. However, the issue still receives far less attention than drunk driving.

Car accidents caused by drivers who are drunk, drowsy or otherwise impaired can result in serious injury. After such an accident, an injured person who is not at fault might assume the responsible driver's insurance company will cover medical expenses and the cost of vehicle repair. However, the driver might be uninsured or underinsured, or the insurance company might not offer adequate compensation. An attorney may be able to negotiate with the insurance company or assist the injured person in filing a lawsuit.

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