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Wearable device aims to reduce car accident risk

The use of biometric devices by the general public is nothing new, but most have been centered on person fitness and security. Georgia motorists and their passengers might benefit from the latest application of biometric technology designed to reduce the risk of car accidents. It is called Steer, and it rouses drowsy drivers by delivering a small electric shock.

The makers of the device explained that they were looking for a way to reduce the risk of car accident by waking up a drowsy driver, and their first thought was to use a vibration. They turned to an electric impulse after realizing a vibration could go unnoticed by someone drifting off. Steer determines when to deliver the shock by calibrating itself to the individual and delivering an electric impulse when sweat secretion and heart rate drop in intervals known to signal drowsiness.

One of the product's designers explained that the shock is of a low enough amperage to cause no harm. Instead, it is just enough to stimulate production of cortisol and other hormones, which is similar to the effect of caffeine. After receiving the shock, drivers should pull over and rest to avoid a collision.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has estimated that drowsy driving is the cause of several thousand fatal accidents around the country on an annual basis, and it likely contributes to many more non-fatal crashes. It is far more difficult to detect than alcohol impairment, so an attorney representing an injured victim might need to rely on eyewitness testimony and other evidence to demonstrate that the motorist was negligent and should be held financially responsible for the ensuing losses.

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