For many truckers, the knowledge that driving while fatigued can lead to major accidents is something that is often readily understood, but few are aware that the practice can be culled with recent technology.
According to Popular Science, driver fatigue accounts for 65% of truck accidents within the mining industry as whole. While many drivers, especially within the trucking industry, are aware that long hours are a part of the job, one must also place consideration on the available technologies that would help to prevent driving fatigue and thus, protect both truckers, and the other drivers, pedestrians, and bicyclists they may come into contact with while on the road.
Most drivers are aware of Caterpillar, the same company that has a wide collection of construction equipment for both professional and commercial use. However, aside from construction equipment, the company also plans to release eye and face-tracking technology that will help to prevent accidents.
The equipment works through DSS sensors, which gauge when the driver has entered into what is known as a microsleep, or when one falls asleep for only a short period of time. Many people might refer to this as “nodding off.” This can be especially dangerous to drivers as they may not be aware that they are even entering into a microsleep.
The DSS sensors will take into account pupil size, blink frequency, the position of the mouth, and the general direction of the head. All of these factors will help the technology pinpoint the exact moment when the driving has entered into a microsleep.
When this happens, the system activates audio alarms, as well as seat vibrations in order to wake the driver up. The technology is so impressive that an infrared camera will also analyze the eyes of the driver even while wearing glasses or while in the dark.
Caterpillar is not the only company that is adopting this kind of technology, and even working to improve upon it. General Motors, in a partnership with Seeing Machines, has made a deal to buy tracking machines for 500,000 vehicles over the next five years.
As mentioned, the technology has become very prevalent in the trucking and mining industry, however, this technology will now work with the general populace, encouraging all drivers to keep their eyes on the road and stay awake, or simply put down the phone.
This technology works similarly, but also comes with algorithms to detect how long a driver has kept their eyes off of the road. The technology can also gauge when the driver finds themselves the most distracted; for example, when looking at the radio as opposed to looking at the road. In addition, newer technology also allows cars to “talk” to each other, or rather, exchange information on factors such as speed, distance, and so forth.
All of these systems can also be disabled, ensuring that this does not become a privacy issue.
As a whole, one should be aware of the availability of these kind of technologies that, when used correctly, can potentially save many lives.