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Device delivers electric shock to keep drivers alert

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, drowsy driving may be the cause behind up to 6,000 fatal traffic accidents annually. Oklahoma motorists might therefore be interested in a new device designed to keep drivers alert and awake, thanks to its use of electric shocks.

The device, called Steer, uses a combination of two sensors to track changes in sweat secretion and heart rate, as these are indicators when a driver is getting sleepy. The process begins with the device setting baseline numbers for the driver. If the driver's heart rate drops by 10 beats a minute from the baseline or the skin conductivity decreases by one unit, Steer gives the driver a brief vibration. If heart rate or skin conductivity continue to fall, the device gives the driver a slight electric shock.

The short, gentle bit of electricity is meant to increase the driver's levels of certain hormones, like cortisol and serotonin, to keep him or her awake. The goal is not to keep the driver on the road, but to provide an alarm so the driver can move the vehicle off the road and get some rest.

Steer launched a campaign on Kickstarter and within a week it had gained almost 100 backers and reached nearly twice its fundraising goal. The designer of the device said he came up with the idea some time ago and got serious about it when a friend had a car accident that Steer may have prevented.

In cases where drowsy or sleeping drivers cause car accidents, the parties who are injured may be entitled to recover for lost wages, pain and suffering, medical expenses or other damages. An attorney with experience in personal injury law may be able to help by drafting and filing documents to initiate legal proceedings.

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