“If we are to reduce the number of road-traffic accidents related to fatigue and lack of sleep, motorists must be advised to take breaks and avoiding driving while tired.” –Ole Norregaard, sleep scientist and consultant, ASP Technology, Ltd.
So here’s a concept: We know driving while fatigued is a major bugaboo for consumer and commercial vehicle operators alike. We know both groups, in a reflection of trend lines among the general population, are using all kinds of “smart phones” these days.
So why not use one to combat the other by developing a smart phone application or “app” that helps drivers more accurately gauge their level of fatigue, helping them make better decisions regarding rest breaks and whether to keep driving or not?
That seems to be the thrust behind ASP Technology's new “Anti Sleep Pilot” or “ASP” app for the iPhone and iPad.
Currently available through Apple’s App Store for $19.99, it’s also being considered for wider availability on other “smart phone” operating systems.
[Here’s an overview of how this technology is supposed to work.]
Based on over four years of sleep science research plus Danish engineering and design, the ASP device combines an accelerometer, clock, timer, GPS, and other functionality of the iPhone to an app that continually calculates a driver's personalized driving fatigue level, maintains the individual's alertness, and ultimately alerts the driver when it is time to take a preventative driving break.
“It’s designed to warn drivers when they are too tired to drive, based on a customized risk profile, and then recommends when drivers should take a break and for how long, which ultimately promotes safer driving conditions,” according to Troels Palshof, founder and CEO of ASP Technology.
He explained that, when the vehicle is in motion, this app automatically calculates the driver's fatigue level by combining personal information with time of day and total drive time data automatically collected by the iPhone.
The user's fatigue level is displayed on the screen and a series of light and sound tests are used to break the monotony of driving and maintain the driver's alertness, Palshof said.
[The clip below explains how the ASP app works in a little more detail.]
The app records the reaction time, which is also used as one of the 26 input factors in the calculation of the driver's fatigue level. Ultimately the app sounds an alarm, alerting the driver to take a preventive rest break when they are about to reach a critical driving-fatigue level, he noted.
The app also displays driving distance, average driving speed, and the progression of the driver's fatigue level.
So, why the big concern with “driving while fatigued” for all drivers, and not just those piloting big rigs? Well, Palshof pointed to a study by the Swedish National Road and Transport Research Institute that indicates up to 20% of all traffic accidents and 40% of all single vehicle traffic accidents are fatigue-related. That’s why he thinks this app could play a vital role in helping boost highway safety.
But will it catch on? Will drivers take the necessary steps to create a “fatigue profile” and then activate the app when they get behind the wheel? Well, that’s the rub, of course. It’s like seat belts: they don’t do a damn thing to save lives unless people buckle themselves up to start with.
So it’ll be interesting to see whether the general driving public, must less truck drivers, voluntarily begin using apps like this.