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New Technology Aims To Cut Down On Drowsy Driving

CHICAGO (CBS) -- You know the feeling: you've been on the road too long, your eyes are getting heavy, you wonder if you can make it just a little bit further. Now, as CBS 2's Mary Kay Kleist reports, there's new technology to keep drivers awake on the road.

Christina Strumbaugh is lucky, and more careful on the road these days.

One night, she fell asleep behind the wheel.

"Next thing I know, the rumble strips woke me up on the side of the road and I realized immediately I had been asleep, and was terrified," Strumbaugh said.

It was a wakeup call for sure and she's not alone.

Helene A. Emsellem, MD, is with the National Sleep Foundation. She said that "Over 60 percent of people will report that they've driven drowsy at some point in time over the last year, and about 35 percent of those people report they have actually fallen asleep."

Trucker Andy Toczylowski has seen it all too often.

"You can kill yourself and kill other people," he said.

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration reports that, between 2005 and 2009, more than 5,000 people have lost their lives in drowsy-driving accidents.

But now there's some high tech help to keep you awake on the road.

Volvo has technology called City Safety. The car will stop by itself if it gets too close to another car. This technology will be a standard feature in 2012 Volvos and works at speeds up to 22 miles per hour.

Another technology is optional and alerts the driver when the car starts drifting into the next lane.

"And what happens is in the windshield you're gonna see these red lights and you're gonna hear a beeping sound that's made to attract the driver's attention," Volvo sales consultant Carlo Gilli said.

Mercedes-Benz cars have a steering sensor that helps keep drivers awake.

"The car recognizes that your steering is erratic, or your breaking is erratic, or your acceleration is erratic, then it'll give you a warning," said Doug Newcomb, senior editor of car shopping site

You can also get apps on your smart phone. The Anti Drowse app is free.

"Basically, you put in the time you're driving and you hit start. It pretty much hits noises to keep you awake," Newcomb said.

The Anti Sleep Pilot app costs $20. It calculates your fatigue level as you drive, based on information you put into it. It tells you when you need to take a break. That's a valuable lesson some drivers we talked to have learned from experience.

"It's usually like hurry up and find me someplace where I can get to something sweet. So that way it just keeps me going," driver Tim Clemons said.

"It just takes a split second to fall asleep and swerve, and then you know, you just don't know what's going to happen," Strumbaugh said.

If you don't have a smartphone, there are still options. The Anti Sleep Pilot also comes as a device that sits on the dashboard and costs about $200.

The No Nap device sits on your ear and sounds a buzzer if you nod off. It's about $20.


Anti Drowse app
Anti Sleep Pilot
No Nap

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