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Automakers invest in tech to stop you dozing off at the wheel

Could technology which detects when you are distracted at the wheel save lives?

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Telefonica

Major automakers are investing in car monitoring systems which detect when you are distracted or too tired to drive effectively.

According to the Wall Street Journal, a number of high-profile vehicle manufacturers are investing and testing driver monitor systems which keep an eye on your movements and body readings, in order to give you a nudge or alert you when your focus is faltering.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)'s early predictions (.PDF) for accident rates in the months January to September 2015, approximately 26,000 people in the US died in road accidents -- an increase of over nine percent based on 2014 statistics.

Driver distraction is only one possible cause of accidents and fatalities, of course, but automakers hope that implementing Internet of Things (IoT) and connected technology in our vehicles, they may reduce at least one aspect of driving which can result in injury, accidentally or otherwise.

Automakers including General Motors, Toyota and Volkswagen, among others, are exploring monitoring systems for our next-generation vehicles. While we already have rear-view cameras, cruise control, seatbelt alarm nagging, GPS systems and infotainment dashboards -- not to mention Google's self-driving car project -- an alert to stop you using your smartphone, taking a call or your hands off the wheel could increase overall safety, especially when it comes to younger and less experienced drivers.

Interested? Video reveals the moment Google's self-driving car slams into a bus

You do have to ask, however, whether drivers will be enamoured with the prospect of being monitored so much in their vehicles, as well as whether constant beeps, alarms and nagging will actually make drivers less attentive and deaf to correction.

See also: Car calls 911 after alleged hit-and-run, driver arrested

In November, Ford revealed a "drug-driving suit" designed to give people a taste of what it is like to drive a car while high. The suit, destined for use at driving schools, simulates the effects of cannabis, cocaine, heroin and MDMA through sensors, goggles, lighting equipment and padded weights.

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