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Startup company develops wearable drowsy driver tech

Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests that drowsy driving causes an estimated 6,000 fatal traffic accidents each year in the U.S. Traditional remedies to combat fatigue behind the wheel include drinking coffee or energy drinks, lowering a window or pulling over to take a walk, but they rarely keep drivers alert for very long. The information age has yielded a variety of products that tackle age-old problems in new and novel ways, and a startup company called Creative Mode has developed a device that uses the latest wearable technology to monitor drivers in South Carolina and around the country and alert them when fatigue seems likely.

The device, which has been named the Steer, uses the same kind of sensors found in wearable fitness devices to monitor the heart rates and sweat secretions of drivers. These biometrics fluctuate when individuals become tired, and, the device vibrates gently when a driver's heart rate falls by 10 beats per minute and the skin conductance drops one unit from its baseline. If the driver's biometrics continue to fall, the device is programmed to deliver a mild electric shock.

The thought of being shocked while behind the wheel does not seem to be putting off buyers, and Creative Mode's Kickstarter project has already raised more than six times its original goal. The company says that it plans to begin fulfilling orders for the Steer drowsy driving device in November. The regular retail price of the device is expected to be about $230.

Personal injury attorneys with experience in car accident cases may suspect drowsiness or distraction when drivers took no evasive action before crashing, and they may study police accident reports carefully for information that could be used to pinpoint responsibility for the collision. When these efforts are unproductive, attorneys could check cellphone records or the information retained by automobile data recorders to determine what occurred immediately prior to the accident.

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