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Wearable device could prevent drowsy driving accidents

Illinois drivers who often find themselves getting drowsy while they are behind the wheel may be interested in a wearable device that will prevent them from falling asleep. According to the creators of the device, it emits a low-level shock when it detects that the wearer has nodded off.

When a driver puts the device on, it takes baseline readings of the heart rate and skin conductivity. As the driver starts to fall asleep at the wheel, his or her heart rate and skin conductivity will drop. If the wearer's skin conductivity drops one unit below baseline or the heart rate drops by 10 beats per minute, the device will vibrate. If these two biometrics drop even further, the device will gently shock the wearer. The team said that the shock is gentle enough to alert the driver but not distracting enough to cause an accident.

The founder of the team that created the device, which is being called Steer, said that the inspiration for its creation came after a friend fell asleep at the wheel and was injured. The team turned to Kickstarter to get the initial support needed. The campaign had approximately 100 backers and earned double the pledge goal. Those supporting the device on Kickstarter can get it for under $130, though the price is expected to be around $230 when it goes to mass market.

Drivers owe a duty of care to their passengers as well as to occupants of other vehicles. Getting behind the wheel when sleep-deprived could be a breach of that duty. If a collision results, people who have been injured may want to meet with an attorney and see how they can be adequately compensated for their losses. In some cases this could be the product of negotiations with the at-fault motorist's insurance company.

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