Drivers in Rhode Island may have the opportunity to purchase a device that will alert them when they are in danger of falling asleep at the wheel. The Steer, a device that is worn on the wrist and that was developed by Creative Mode, measures sweat and heart rate to determine when a person is falling asleep. First, it delivers a vibration, and then it shocks the driver. At this point, the driver should find a place to rest and pull over.
The founder of Creative Mode says that he did not realize what a problem drowsy driving can be until a friend was in an accident after dozing off behind the wheel. That friend broke his collarbone, but accidents caused by fatigued drivers can be much more serious. According to the Centers for Disease Control, drowsy driving is responsible for up to 6,000 deadly motor vehicle accidents annually.
The team's original plan was to use a vibration to alert the driver, but they found that this was not always effective. They were surprised to find that a small shock could be administered without any harm to the driver. According to the team, the shock also stimulates hormones such as cortisol and serotonin that will help keep the driver from falling asleep.
Car accidents caused by drowsy driving can result in serious injuries. It can be difficult to prove drowsy driving, so the person may not be charged. However, if the insurance company does not offer enough compensation to cover the expenses associated with the accident, it may be possible to file a civil lawsuit. For a successful civil lawsuit, the aim of an attorney will be to prove with a preponderance of evidence that the driver's negligence caused the accident. This is a lower burden of proof than the requirement for a criminal case.