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Self-aware cars may help reduce car accidents

In motor vehicle crash investigations, an often-occurring, but vague, cause of a crash is described as driver inattention. A large number of car accidents that are triggered by this issue.

Did the car miss a corner because it was going too fast or because the driver was lulled into a daze or was texting on their phone, and by the time they realized they were off the road, it was too late to correct their mistake.

Studies have found that driver distraction and inattention are significant contributors to car accidents, and attempts to deal with it have been less than satisfactory. We can make texting illegal, but police officers cannot observe every driver all of the time. 

But your car could. General Motors has purchased a technology that will allow your car to monitor your eye movements. Potentially, a system like this could be used to prevent driver distraction and even attempt to alert a sleepy driver awake.

Some manufactures already have systems that monitor steering behavior and watch the driver's eyelids to warn drivers who may be falling asleep behind the wheel.

A few cars are equipped with self-braking systems that use radar to detect objects near a vehicle. Others have lane assist, which watches the road to warn a driver when they stray from their proper lane. Both are part of a growing number systems that will move users closer to a fully autonomous vehicle.

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) is working on requirements for vehicles to communicate with each other, as an additional means of preventing car accidents.

Given the number of deaths that stem from drivers failing to pay attention to the operation of their vehicle, these innovations could save thousands of lives in advance of the full automation of vehicles.

Wired.com, "Your Next Chevy May Watch You Watching the Road," Jordan Golson, September 3, 2014

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