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Devices, apps to keep drowsy drivers awake

October 31, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
You know the feeling when you're tired on a trip, but you can keep driving just a little bit further? Will you be able to stay awake? Well, there are some innovative technologies to help make sure you pull over before it's a problem.

Christina Strumbaugh is careful about her driving these days. That's because she feels especially lucky to have avoided an accident after literally falling asleep at the wheel.

"Next thing I know, the rumble strips woke me up on the side of the road and I realized immediately I had been asleep and was terrified," said Strumbaugh.

It was a wakeup call to be sure. But she's far from the only one it's happened to.

"Over 60 percent of people will report that they've driven drowsy at some point in time over the last year and about 35 percent of those people report they have actually fallen asleep," said Helene A. Emsellem, author of "You Snooze, You Lose."

It's eye opening, isn't it? But now, there's some high-tech help to keep you awake on the road.

The least expensive options are apps for your smartphone. The Anti Drowse app and the Anti Sleep Pilot are two options. Anti Drowse is free.

"Basically, you put in the time you're driving and you hit start. It pretty much hits noises to keep you awake," said Edmunds.com technology editor Doug Newcomb.

Anti Sleep Pilot is $20. You enter a profile, and then along your drive, you're asked to perform various tasks.

"When you're driving, certain screens will pop up. They'll ask you to perform certain functions, exercises. It measures your reaction time and if it feels you're getting too fatigued, it'll tell you to take a break," said Newcomb.

The Anti Sleep Pilot comes as a device, too. It sits on the dashboard and costs about $200.

The NoNap device sits on your ear and sounds a buzzer if you nod off. It's about $20.

If money is no object, there are new vehicles that come equipped with some pretty cutting-edge technology to keep you safe. Volvo Technology monitors lane markers and looks for micro-corrections that inattentive drivers are known to make.

The Attention Assist with Mercedes-Benz utilizes a steering sensor that works with smart software.

"It analyzes certain driver input. For example, if you're driving over a long distance for a while and the car recognizes that your steering is erratic, or your braking is erratic, or your acceleration is erratic, then it'll give you a warning," said Newcomb.

No matter which app or device you use, remember to keep your eyes on the road. If you are asked to perform a task, pull over to do it.


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