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Can technology keep tired drivers from causing car accidents?

New Jersey drivers generally know they are not supposed to drive while drunk, and they know they are not supposed to text while driving, even if that does not always stop them from engaging in these behaviors. But drivers routinely drive when they are drowsy, and this can be dangerous as well.

According to a recent study from the American Medical Association, people who have had less than six hours of sleep are 22 percent more likely to get into a car accident. And the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration notes that drowsy driving causes about 100,000 accidents every year. A new technology offers hope to reduce the number of these crashes.

Researchers are using infrared sensors and electroencephalograph devices to track drivers' eye movements, hoping to find clues that will warn them before drivers fall asleep at the wheel. Humans move their eyes about three or four times a second. But as people get tired, their eyes blink more rapidly and their eye movement patterns change.

Scientists think that sensors could detect these changes and alert drivers that they're getting too sleepy to driver. Other scientists say that the only way for a car safety device to tell if a driver has truly fallen asleep is with a brain wave scanner. Researchers say the two methods combined could make a very powerful tool to keep drivers more alert and roads more safe.

When New Jersey residents are injured in a car accident caused by another driver's negligence, they may seek to be be compensated for medical expenses, lost wages and other damages through a personal injury lawsuit. Drivers are negligent when they fail to exercise the same level of care that a reasonable person would under similar circumstances. Driving drunk, texting while driving and speeding are all evidence of negligence. Drowsy driving can be evidence as well.

Source: CNN, "Tech to detect when a driver is dozing off," Heather Kelly, July 9, 2013

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