Sleep-deprived drivers remain responsible for about 40% of the road accidents, according to enforcement officers patrolling the highways and major roads here. According to a report by the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways Transport Research Wing, road accidents claimed 1,53,972 lives and harmed 3,84,448 people in 2021. And according to data from the World Road Statistics, 2020, mentioned in the report of the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways Transport Research Wing, India is 2nd among 207 nations in terms of the total number of accidents. The World Road Statistics, 2020 lists 207 countries, with India having the highest number of fatalities
To prevent this chronic fatigue and to maintain safety while driving, our government is augmenting the technology known as “Drowsiness Alert System”. This will prove to be a boon for the people’s safety while driving especially during night time.
The government will soon set the standards for “Drowsiness Alert System” which can be installed in cars, buses and trucks to give audio alerts to drivers in case they fall asleep while behind the wheel. The standard for the on-board unit (OBU) will be technology agnostic, sources said.
The drowsiness alert systems, currently used across several countries, use different techniques to detect the problem. While some systems detect this by monitoring the steering pattern, others monitor the vehicle position in lanes and by monitoring the driver’s eyes and face.
Drowsiness is far more deadly when the vehicles are moving at a high speed as the drivers rarely get time to react and apply the brakes. While the issue is well documented in developed countries such as the United States and United Kingdom in their road crash reports, there is no such data in India.
However, a study by the road transport ministry of drivers across 15 states in 2018 had found that 25% of drivers surveyed had admitted to have fallen asleep behind the wheel while driving. Global studies have shown that the chances of drivers falling asleep is high when they are travelling on highways and rural roads, and more so between midnight and 6am.
TOI has learnt that an expert committee has prepared a draft Automotive Industry Standard (AIS) for the drowsiness alert system, and it would soon be put in public domain for seeking feedback from stakeholders. Sources said the roll out of the provision and whether to make the installation of the alert system in certain categories of vehicles mandatory will be taken in due course. However, they indicated that installation of the devices are crucial in trucks, buses and cars.