For years now scientists and designers have been addressing the problem of drivers falling asleep at the wheel. 

Reports from and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration conservatively estimate that 100,000 police-reported crashes are the direct result of driver fatigue each year. This results in an estimated 1,550 deaths, 71,000 injuries, and $12.5 billion in monetary losses. These figures may be the tip of the iceberg, since currently it is difficult to attribute crashes to sleepiness.

The latest thingy on the safety horizon is a seat-belt and seat cover combination that wakes you up if you are in danger of falling asleep at the wheel.

The belt and seat cover measures your heart rate and breathing and alerts you if you are getting drowsy. The device measures the driver’s heart rate and breathing via a sensor system knitted into the seat-belt and seat cover.

Designer Jose Solaz of the Biomechanics Institute in Valencia, Spain said: ‘The  system is innovative because it can cancel out the motion of the car and only pick up heart and respiratory rate thanks to the ‘smart textile materials’ embedded in the seat cover and seat-belt.

Since research has shown that driving sleepy can be as debilitating as driving intoxicated due to the fact that it reduces reaction time, vigilance, alertness and concentration so that the ability to perform attention-based activities, such as driving, is impaired.

Some data suggests crashes involving driver fatigue are about 50 percent more likely to result in death or serious injury as they tend to be high speed impacts because a driver who has fallen asleep cannot brake or swerve to avoid or reduce the impact.

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