When you stop to consider some of the major factors related to car accidents, the usual suspects immediately come to mind. You’ve got things like reckless driving, high speeds, the effects of alcohol, and so forth. One of the factors that occasionally gets overlooked is driver fatigue. It’s obvious enough that when you are tired, you are not functioning at your best and you’re not exactly alert. You are not as capable at reacting to the road as you would under normal circumstances.
Mercedes-Benz is targeting sleepy drivers with a new warning system — dubbed Attention Assist — that detects when a driver is about to doze off. If criteria are met, the system lets out a warning sound and an alert symbol lights up on the instrument panel. In this way, it functions in a similar fashion to a standard alarm clock, except the alarm only goes off when you’re about to drift off into Sandman-land.
The system identifies “tiredness-related changes in personal driving styles”, monitoring and recording things like the angle of the steering wheel, speed, acceleration, and the use of turn signals, as well as external factors like side wind and an uneven road surface. The Attention Assist system is in its final stages of development, and M-B hopes to set it into production in 2009.