AI to boost road safety by warning drivers when they suffer from fatigue

Written by: Simon Pavey, Last updated:15th February 2022

Man in car asleep at the wheel

Tiredness is one of the nation’s leading causes of road accidents, but now new research is being carried out to help warn drivers when fatigue could cause them to become a danger behind the wheel.

SEAT is working in partnership with Eyesight Technologies to develop a new AI system that could help to make the roads safer for everyone in the years to come.

Addressing the dangers of driver fatigue

Stefan Ilijevic, head of product innovation at SEAT, commented: “In total, more than 90 per cent of the road accidents in Europe are caused by human factors. The main reasons include distraction and tiredness, excessive speed and alcohol and drugs.

“At SEAT, we are working on solutions to prevent negligence behind the steering wheel and significantly reduce road accidents.

“We partner with some of the world’s brightest companies on important technology to save lives, since our long-term vision is a world with zero accidents.”

As part of this commitment, SEAT’s Xplora design team are working on a new algorithm that can identify an individual’s level of wakefulness by analysing eye openness, angle of vision, blink rate and head position. In the event that it detects unacceptable levels of fatigue in the driver, the system automatically triggers an alert.

In future, the developers also hope to add other functionality to the system as well, such as detecting nearby pedestrians and assessing whether or not the driver has seen them.

What are the warning signs and how to combat fatigue

When you’re suffering from fatigue, this can have a significant impact on your ability to drive safely. Drowsiness at the wheel should be taken seriously, as it can lead to serious accidents that not only injure the vehicle’s occupants, but also other innocent road users and pedestrians.

Combatting tiredness can be easier said than done, however, so you should always plan your journeys to include rest stops every two to three hours. Getting out of the vehicle, stretching your legs and getting the blood pumping should all help to ward off tiredness for the next leg of your journey.

In the event that you feel yourself becoming drowsy, you should pull over at the earliest safe place to do so for rest. Consider drinking a caffeinated drink and then taking a short nap, by the time you wake up, the caffeine should be making you more alert and will allow you to continue.

Jenny Smith, general manager for Tele-Gence, commented: “Tiredness kills, it’s as simple as that. All drivers should know the dangers of fatigue and they should be taking the necessary precautions to remain alert at all times. Developing new systems that can warn the driver if they are too tired to continue is a positive step towards enhancing road safety.”

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