Arizona motorists who are concerned about falling asleep at the wheel might be able to buy a device called the Steer to prevent this. With drowsy driving the cause of up to 6,000 fatalities each year, the device's creators hope the roads will be safer if more drivers use it. The founder of the company that developed the device says he only became aware of the dangers of driving while fatigued after a friend hit a tree and broke a collarbone after he fell asleep at the wheel.
The Steer works by measuring sweat and heart rate. As a change in these biometrics indicate that a person is falling asleep, the device delivers a vibration. When the heart rate and skin conductance falls yet again, the device gives the driver a small electric shock. The creators initially tried using just vibrations, but they were not always enough to alert the driver. They then found that a small shock was both harmless and effective.
The shock also stimulates the production of hormones in the system that should keep the driver awake. This gives the driver time to find a place to safely stop and rest.
Drivers who do not rest when they become drowsy might cause a motor vehicle accident. This accident could lead to serious injuries to their passengers as well as to occupants of other vehicles. In addition to the stress of recovering from the accident and possibly missing work, an injured person might also find that the driver responsible was uninsured or that the insurance company is unwilling to pay enough compensation. If this happens, the injured person might want to talk to an attorney about possibly filing a lawsuit if an appropriate settlement can't be reached.