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Researchers and car manufacturers are becomingly increasingly more aware of road traffic accidents caused by drivers falling asleep at the wheel.

Cars are now becoming an extension of our lifestyles rather than just a vehicle to get us from A to B – the family car is now fitted with entertainment systems for the kids and high spec music players to keep us entertained as we speed along in ultimate luxury to our holiday destination or business meeting.

All this global travelling in style has sadly had a knock on effect when it comes to road accident figures, with road accidents now being a common cause of life changing injury in the UK and the most common cause of personal injury among British tourists in accidents abroad.

The most simple form of device to help drivers stay awake at the wheel fits over the ear like a hearing device and monitors the angle of the road ahead – any change in posture of the driver as their head inclines drowsily is detected and an alarm sounds when the angle of the driver’s head flatlines at nought degrees – the alarm is loud enough to alert rather than startle.

Car manufacturers like Ford and BMW are fitting a device called Attention Assist to their cars – and an audio alarm with a visual alert are both deployed.

Attention Assist systems operate by building up a profile of a driver’s normal driving performance, based on steering, use of foot pedals, acceleration and deceleration and other driving functions.

When the Attention Assist system detects changes in a driver’s performance, it then assesses whether this is as a result of fatigue or other factors.

Car manufacturers Lexus and Saab use cameras mounted in the dashboard to monitor the driver’s face rather than the car’s performance – and these issue warnings if the driver’s features seem to indicate they are falling asleep or becoming drowsy at the wheel.

Intelligent driving performance monitors may be the way ahead, but it is not yet known how effective these are in reducing the number of road traffic accidents, which kill and maim significant numbers of drivers and their passengers – as well as pedestrians, motorbike riders and pedal cyclists –every year.

And the more our cars become a leisure centre – with music and passenger entertainment – the more it may seems that drivers and passengers are cut off from the world outside their car interior.

Research by motoring organisations has revealed that a driver’s heartbeat is influenced by the rhythms of any music being played in the car, meaning that mood and alertness may also be influenced – or the noise of surrounding traffic may simply be blocked out by a loud bass line which consumes a driver’s attention inside a car.

Attention Assist and other devices can alert drivers to the danger they are falling asleep at the wheel – but deciding not to drive when tired or under the influence of drugs, medications or alcohol may still be the best way of preventing road traffic accidents.

By following road traffic accident compensation guidelines you can claim compensation for your injury and suffering.