Yawn detection program – potential life saver for tired drivers

U.S. and Indian researchers have joined forces to design a computer program that can detect when you’re yawning – a potentially life-saving invention for drivers and others on the road.

While the dangers of driving while distracted by cell phones has been grabbing many a headline of late, the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says at least 100,000 road crashes a year are caused by driver fatigue.

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A paper (A non-rigid motion estimation algorithm for yawn detection in human drivers) describing the new yawn detector is included in the International Journal of Computational Vision and Robotics. The authors hail from Vanderbilt University in Nashville as well as ITER in Orissa, India and UUT if West Bengal, India.

They describe an in-vehicle camera that uses image-processing software and an algorithm to grab images of a driver’s face and take notice of yawning vs. other facial movements such as smiling or singing along to that favorite iPod tune. A warning system can be triggered when yawning frequency indicates fatigue.

Such a system, the researchers say, could be far less expensive and intrusive than a system that involved hooking a driver up to detect such other fatigue indicators as brain waves and heart rate.

Believe it or Not – Texting and driving don’t mix

Whiele whe’re on the subject of alert driving — a new study concludes that driving while texting on a cell phone or smartphone isn’t safe – in fact, it can be 23 times more risky in leading to a crash than drivers who are not texting.

What, we needed a study to tell us this?

Apparently, we did.

The latest report, which came from the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute yesterday, reports that the risk of a vehicle crash can be up to 23 times higher when the driver is texting, compared to a driver who is paying full attention to the road.

The report concludes that driving while texting should be banned, and that cell phone use should be banned for newly-licensed drivers.

The Virginia Tech report comes just a week after similar conclusions were found in a report done by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

That 266-page report, which was actually compiled in 2002 but was kept out of public view until two consumer groups filed a federal Freedom of Information Act lawsuit to obtain it, recommends that drivers be banned from using cell phones in moving vehicles, whether the phone is being held or used with a hands-free listening device.

In fact, have you ever heard of a study that looks at cell phone use and texting use while driving that finds that such practices IMPROVE driving?

I don’t think so.

The amazing part of all of this is that we all seem to require studies like this to understand that driving while texting or talking on cell phones are problems on our roadways.

As someone who drives cars and rides a motorcycle on our busy, crowded, often distracting roadways, here are some of my observations:

*Driving while texting is a huge problem and needs to be BANNED to save lives. It’s unnerving to sit in your car at a red light, just hoping that the idiot behind you who is texting as they roll to a stop actually DOES stop before smashing into you.

*Teen drivers have enough to worry about when learning to drive and getting their first couple of years behind the wheel on public roads. They should be banned from texting and from talking on cell phones until they are 21 because it’s just not safe for them to be doing it. I have a 17-year-old daughter and she’s always reminding me of the dangers of talking on a cell phone while driving.

*Changes in attitude have to come from our political leaders NOW so that saving lives becomes the priority and not keeping cell phone companies and their lobbyists happy.

It’s time to do something now.

It’s time to ban texting in moving vehicles across North America.

It’s time to ban cell phone use in moving vehicles across the continent.

Sources: Networkworld.com and PCWorld.com

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