Benz "Attention Assist" Targets Drowsy Drivers

August 11, 2008
We've all been there--cruising at 80 mph down a deserted highway, air conditioning full blast, stereo nearly the same, desperately trying to stay awake until a Starbucks appears in the distance.

Mercedes-Benz has spent some time studying those who nod off at the wheel, and it says it's developed a new "Attention Assist" technology that will help drowsy drivers stay alert.

The new system--which will be available in a new Mercedes-Benz in spring 2009, likely the next E-Class--monitors the flow of data from the car in motion--acceleration, braking and steering inputs. When minor inputs begin to vary from the established norm of that driving session, the Attention Assist system intervenes with an audible warning and a light on the dash that tells the driver to take a driving break.

Mercedes says 25 percent of serious accidents are caused by overtired drivers, and that drivers on the road for four hours react 50 percent slower than a fresh pilot. The risk of an accident is doubled in this time frame; after six hours of driving, it's eight times higher, they say.

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