Smart car seat may alert drivers to drowsiness before an accident

Drowsy driving injures and kills thousands of people every year. A smart car seat may let drivers know when to pull over.

Everyone knows that it is dangerous to drive after having a few drinks, to speed during winter weather or to text while driving. However, some may not realize that getting behind the wheel on little sleep can be as dangerous as drunk driving, according to a study by the AAA Foundation for Public Safety. Sleep-deprived drivers regularly endanger the lives of residents in Connecticut and across the country.

The problem is more prevalent than people may think, points out the National Sleep Foundation. During a survey conducted by the foundation, 60 percent of the adult drivers polled admitted they drove a car while sleepy at least once during the past year. Many said they drove drowsy regularly, that they had fallen asleep while driving or that fatigued driving had caused an accident or a near miss. It is estimated that drowsy driving results in 100,000 motor vehicle collisions each year, killing about 1,550 people and injuring 71,000 more.

Cool car seat may save lives

Can a smart car seat prevent drowsy driving accidents? According to CBS Los Angeles, a technology company has developed an innovative seat that analyzes a driver’s heart rate and respiration, and can react according to stress or fatigue. The seat may turn on a massage feature, or cooling or heating elements based on its analysis. The developers say that the smart seat could alert drivers if they are sleepy, before they even realize they are getting too fatigued to safely be behind the wheel. The seat may be on the commercial market within the next couple of years.

Drowsy Driving Facts

Drivers should not rely on a car seat, an app or other methods to keep them awake while driving, however. A device such as the smart seat should only serve as a warning for a driver to pull over. People who regularly drive while they are sleep-deprived, or who are taking long trips, may be among those most at risk of getting into a drowsy driving accident. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, other drivers with high risk factors include commercial drivers, those who work late shifts and people with undiagnosed or untreated sleep disorders.

Some of the ways to avoid being injured or killed in an accident caused by drowsy driving include the following:

• Stopping to rest at the first signs of drowsiness

• Getting sufficient sleep before starting on a trip

• Not driving after taking medications that cause sleepiness

• Bringing a driving buddy to take turns with

If you are injured by another driver, you may be eligible for compensation. A Connecticut personal injury attorney may be able to advise you of your options.