Fatigue at the Wheel: Root of Serious Traffic Accidents

By: Stacey Wilson

Last year in Germany, the police authorities reported a total of 3034 accidents triggered by fatigue, including 1786 collisions resulting in personal injury. This equates to about 0.5 percent of all serious accidents. Nonetheless, safety experts believe that the figure is much higher. This is because at the present time it is difficult to verify signs of fatigue by the time accidents are reconstructed.

Scientific studies revealed that between 10 and 20 percent of traffic accidents is caused by drowsiness. According to investigations conducted by insurance companies in said territory, 1 out of 4 fatal motorway accidents are caused by fatigue. Further, the probability of being killed in a road accident due to fatigue is 2.5 times higher than for other causes.

According to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in the United States, over 100,000 accidents are caused by driver fatigue. Out of which, 1500 people are killed and 71,000 are injured.

In Canada, a study about fatigue at the wheel established that 1 out of 5 has at some time nodded off while driving. Finding also showed that two thirds of fatigue-induced accidents occur during nighttime. Majority of incidents occur in the early hours of the morning between 2 and 6. They can also occur in the middle of the afternoon.

Moreover, safety experts employed by automakers are concentrating on improving safety features of their lineup. According to automotive reports one of the major causes of serious traffic accidents is over-fatigue. Moreover, safety experts are trying to develop a system that recognizes fatigue to warn the driver. This system will be integrated to automobiles to be accessible to drivers.

Engineers from the Mercedes-Benz Technology Centre also conducted several studies and testing regarding this potent auto system. Said engineers have tested more than 200 motorists on motorways and in the driving simulator. This system is expected to be released in a few years' time.

In order to obtain objective indicators of fatigue, Mercedes safety experts employed electroencephalogram (EEG) and other physiological readings. Another method used is the analysis of dynamic driving data.

Mercedes assistance systems will be mated to to avoid real-life accident scenarios. Today, Mercedes safety systems like Electronic Stability Program and Brake Assist, have contributed significantly to the reduction of serious road accident.

According to studies, many motorists are actually able to recognize when they are tired, but by then it is often too late. Moreover, safety experts recommend that drivers should take a break when they are tired to avoid road accidents.

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