Australia's ad campaign on this subject "Drowsy Drivers Die" coupled messaging with call-outs for rest-stops along that nation's lengthy highways. U-Wake is hoping it can create awareness around battling weariness with its new headband.
Here is the raw data from the National Sleep Foundation's 2005 poll:
60% of adult drivers – about 168 million people – say they have driven a vehicle while feeling drowsy in the past year, and more than one-third, (37% or 103 million people), have actually fallen asleep at the wheel! In fact, of those who have nodded off, 13% say they have done so at least once a month. Four percent – approximately eleven million drivers – admit they have had an accident or near accident because they dozed off or were too tired to drive.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration conservatively estimates that 100,000 police-reported crashes are the direct result of driver fatigue each year. This results in an estimated 1,550 deaths, 71,000 injuries, and $12.5 billion in monetary losses. These figures may be the tip of the iceberg, since currently it is difficult to attribute crashes to sleepiness.
Though the U-Wake tool requires the driver to acknowledge he or she might have a problem, to bridge the stigma of wearing a headband while driving, and the U-Wake video (below) strangely shows a guy driving a Porsche Cayenne, which hardly screams "We need the development funds," the wearable monitoring device could/should/might/hopefully will become a staple of industries where night driving and long-range driving is part and parcel of the job.
The device operates by monitoring brain activity and when there are critical measures that determine that you're too tired to drive, it not only sets off an alarm, but contacts your phone, and can be set up to call the phones of loved ones, management (?) and other key figures in your friend zone, so that they, too, can scream into your ear, or calmly guide you to a motel/hotel/Holiday Inn.
U-Wake is currently running a campaign to raise $200,000 on Kickstarter. You can chip into the campaign here. The early bird backers get a device for $185.