Drowsy Driving Tech On The Rise: What It Means For Insurance Customers

Drowsy driving is one of the most dangerous killers for anyone who spends a significant amount of time behind the wheel of an automobile. While it can affect everyone, it usually appears in motorists who have traveled long distances or who drive often for work. Regardless of how it happens and whom it affects, it’s destructive and deadly.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that it leads to more than 100,000 auto accidents per year and also causes 1,550 deaths over the same period of time. To prevent it from happening, auto manufacturers are working hard to develop effective drowsy driving technology. Nationwide detailed the seven biggest in a recent post.


Here are some of the cooler options to watch out for when considering a purchase.

Volvo is in development on a dashboard sensor system that pays attention to driver attentiveness. According to Nationwide, the sensors “monitor the driver’s head position and angle, the direction of their gaze, and how open their eyes are.” This data is them beamed to the car’s Lane Keeping Aid and Collision Warning system which boasts a full auto brake to alert the drowsy driver.

One piece of tech that has already hit the market is Ford’s Driver Alert System, found in the Fusion Hybrid model. The insurance company notes that it uses “a forward-looking camera to identify signs of driver drowsiness, such as drifting between traffic lanes, and triggers a two-stage warning system.”

Likewise, Mercedes-Benz’s ATTENTION ASSIST “determines driving style by analyzing more than 70 factors in the first few minutes of a drive, including steering movements, interaction with the vehicle’s controls, and even wind and road conditions,” notes the insurer. “If it all adds up to driver fatigue, ATTENTION ASSIST sounds an alert.”

A fourth system is the Fatigue Detection program built by Volkswagen, which analyzes driving characteristics after 15 minutes of movement. From here, FD is able to calculate “a fatigue estimate,” wherein if the system determines the driver may be drowsy, “it shows a warning in the Multi-function Display and sounds a signal,” Nationwide states.

Last but not least — as far as auto manufacturers go anyway — is the Toyota Pre-Collision System with Driver Monitor. This system focuses on the driver’s head movement and also “projects the possibility of a collision based on how long the driver turns their head away from the road.”

Nationwide explains: “First, a pre-crash warning alarm sounds; if the situation persists, the system will briefly apply the brakes.”

For the full rundown, including what tech companies are doing to improve the drowsy driving situation, make sure you check out this link.

However, before getting too excited about these developments, remember that they are only supplementary to driver behavior. Ultimately, the car cannot take over and drive for you if you’re feeling too out of it to go any further. If you want to stay out of accidents, not get pulled over for swerving, miss out on citations, and, yes, even save your life (and the life of other people), you cannot rely on tech. That’s why the best system for stopping drowsy driving behaviors is to:


One: Watch out for safe spots.

One of the systems now in development will actually alert you to the best possible locations for pulling over if it detects drowsy driving.


Two: Eliminate these words from your vocabulary — ‘Just a little further.’

If you’re too tired to drive, don’t try to “push it.” Don’t take chances. Pulling over, grabbing some quick shuteye, and arriving late, is better than not arriving at all and making your family and friends attend a funeral.


In Summary

We live in interesting times where technology can stop us from making bad decisions and living with the consequences, both personal and financial. But society — and driving in particular — is a freewill deal and until the automatic car becomes the norm, it will stay that way. Your insurance company might cut you a break if you buy a car with safety technology that prevents drowsy driving, but there is little they can do if you choose persisting in high-risk driving behaviors. In other words, don’t risk it, and don’t let technology give you a false sense of security. There’s simply too much at stake.

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