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High Tech Apps Can Keep You Alert On The Road

MIAMI (CBS4) – Long road trips to visit family or friends can be a lot of fun, but they can also carry a hidden. After hours and hours behind the wheel, sometimes drivers find themselves really drowsy but they push on thinking they can make it a little bit farther.

That is not always a good idea. Christina Strumbaugh said she feels especially lucky to have avoided an accident after literally falling asleep at 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 recalls.

She's far from the only one it's happened to.

"Over 60% of people will report that they've driven drowsy at some point in time over the last year, and about 35% of those people report they have actually fallen asleep," according to Dr. Helene Emsellem, author of 'You Snooze, You Lose'. "One in six deadly crashes involve a driver who was drowsy."

Drivers who want to avoid becoming a statistic can use some high tech help to keep them awake on the road.

The least expensive options are apps for smartphones. The anti-drowse app and the anti-sleep pilot are two options; anti-drowse is free.

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

With anti-sleep pilot, which costs $20, drivers enter a profile and then, along the trip they are asked to perform various tasks.

"When you're driving, certain screens will pop up. They'll ask you to perform certain functions, exercises. It measures your reaction time, and if it feels you're getting too fatigued it'll tell you to take a break," Newcomb says.

The anti-sleep pilot comes as a device, too. It sits on the dashboard and costs about $200.

If money is no object, there are new vehicles that come equipped with some pretty cutting edge technology to keep you safe.

"A Volvo for example has their driver alert technology, and Mercedes-Benz has the attention assist," Newcomb says.

The Volvo technology monitors lane markers and looks for micro-corrections that inattentive drivers are known to make. Newcomb explains, "A lot of other cars have something similar called lane departure warning that basically does the same thing--uses a camera to look at the lanes."

The attention assist in Mercedes-Benz utilizes a steering sensor that works with smart software. It analyzes certain driver input, for example, if you're driving over a long distance for awhile, and the car recognizes that your steering is erratic, or your braking is erratic, or your acceleration is erratic, then it'll give you a warning.

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