This Headband Wants to Put Drowsy Driving to Rest

A brain-wave monitoring headband alerts a driver 3-5 minutes before his fatigue jeopardizes his and others’ safety.
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A brain-wave monitoring headband alerts a driver 3-5 minutes before his fatigue jeopardizes his and others’ safety.

While it may not get the same number of public service announcements as drunk driving or texting while driving, drowsy driving makes its mark each year on the nation’s vehicle fatality statistics. It’s estimated that driving on limited sleep causes 2.5 percent (or up to 6,000) of annual fatal crashes, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Some may assume all it takes is an extra cup of coffee or a cracked window to fight fatigue. Yet you don’t necessarily have to fall asleep at the wheel for it to become a problem, which is what makes it so unsuspectingly dangerous —drowsiness causes drivers to be less attentive, have slower reaction times and impairs the ability to make quick decisions, according to the CDC.

But a headband may soon be the solution in determining whether someone is too drowsy to drive. The Impecca Alert band monitors brain activity and claims it can provide alerts three to five minutes before a driver’s fatigue reaches an unsafe level, reports Gizmag. Though other drowsiness-detecting devices already exist, such as Optalert and EyeAlert, Impecca is the first of its kind to track brain waves.

The headband, which straps across the forehead, is lightweight and comfortable to be worn for long periods, Impecca says. The headband’s sensors rest against the driver’s forehead, and data is transferred to a mobile app. The app then assesses the driver’s drowsiness on a scale of zero to 100. Zero indicates the driver is fully awake and any number above 80 suggests that fatigue has reached a dangerous level. A rating of 80 or higher will then trigger an alarm on the driver’s smartphone and notifications may be sent to family, friends or social networks.