New Volkswagen Passat Alltrack Knows When You’re Tired
One of the most common causes of serious accidents is fatigue.
It’s quite simple: To sleep whilst driving really isn’t a very good idea. Indeed, it’s pretty dangerous.
Short bouts of unconsciousness called “microsleep” makes for a momentary total loss of control and awareness: The result being drifting from lanes, head-on collisions, pile-ups – the lot.
A 2010 study by the American Automobile Association found that 17% of all fatal road accidents in the US were caused by tired drivers.
The biggest cure for this silent killer is prevention. Those signs which warn you not to drive tired got it in one.
However, people will drive tired. There’s no way around it. They just will.
Which is why the race has been on to find a way to overcome this blight on road safety using technology.
The initial signs of fatigue can be detected before a critical situation arises with the Bosch Driver Drowsiness Detection system – available now in the Volkswagen Passat Alltrack.
This system monitors steering movements and, should it suspect laxness on the part of the driver, it will advise them to take a break.
The system detects fatigue through information provided by the car’s electric power steering system and by the car’s steering angle sensor – all of which is part of the Passat Alltrack’s ESP anti-skid system.
Steering behaviour becomes less precise once fatigue descends, which is why the drowsiness detection system begins recording the driver’s steering behaviour from the moment the engine is started.
In this way, the system can recognise changes over the course of a long trip – which means that it can detect fatigue if and when it sets in.
It looks out for phases during which the driver is barely steering alongside slight, yet quick and abrupt steering movements made to keep the car on track.
It takes into consideration the frequency of these movements and such parameters as the length of the trip, the use of turn signals and the time of day.
All of this information is used to calculate the driver’s level of fatigue. And should that level exceed a certain value, an icon (usually a coffee cup) flashes on the instrumental panel – a reminder to the driver that they should take a break.
And you should always listen to machines.
It is perhaps too early to say whether the Bosch Driver Drowsiness Detection system will actually make any kind of impact on improving road safety. All must surely agree, though, that it’s better than nothing.