The world’s largest mining equipment manufacturer plans to roll out specially developed eye and face tracking technology targeted at preventing the number of accidents caused by truck drivers under the influence of fatigue.
The announcement has been made by Caterpillar which markets and sells mining gear, and the new technology includes sensors and software packages. The eye tracking technology has been designed to detect and identify when a truck driver is in danger of falling asleep or dozing off at the wheel.
The technology is very exciting because it presents a much more practical way to reduce the risk of accidents caused by those drivers who drive while drowsy. Fatigue is a major risk factor for any truck driver, because truckers often drive alone for long periods of time. Moreover, many drivers also drive above and beyond their Hours of Service limits, increasing the risks of being involved in an accident.
Further, truck drivers may be at a much higher risk of drowsy driving accidents, because they are at a high risk of sleep apnea which increases their risk of dozing off at the wheel. Sleep apnea is a condition in which a person suffers from respiratory interruptions several times during sleep, leading to fatigue, tardiness and drowsiness while driving.
Several companies have already examined this technology, and have been impressed with the results. BHP Billiton and gold producer Newmont Mining say that they have tested the equipment, and found that the results were much better than earlier systems, that focused on making workers wear special gear to prevent drowsy driving accidents.
Initially, the equipment is likely to be sold for mining trucks. The system includes a camera that is designed to detect the movement of the driver’s eyes, the number of times the person blinks, and the number of times he shuts his eyes. The technology also tracks the location of the user’s mouth in order to determine that the user is not looking at the road. The truck will be equipped with an infrared lamp, which is invisible to humans, but helps the camera focus in the dark. The gadgetry includes an accelerometer, a GPS chip and computers that are mounted behind the driver’s seat.
Ultimately, the technology detects so-called micro sleep which occurs when a person dozes off for a fraction of a second to half a minute, and suddenly wakes up without realizing that he has dozed off. This is the most common type of drowsiness and can be dangerous enough to increase the risk of a serious or even fatal accident.
The Indiana trucking accident lawyers at Montross Miller Muller Mendelson Kennedy, LLP represent persons injured in commercial trucking, semi rig and big rig accidents across the state of Indiana.