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New device may help curb distracted driving epidemic

Technology is at the root of the distracted driving epidemic…but it also poses a promising solution to the problem. A new device uses facial scanning and artificial intelligence to alert drivers when they’re heading into the danger zone. And it may help curb the staggering number of accidents that are due to distracted and drowsy driving.

How it works

The crowdfunded device – called Ridy – was released last summer and is now available on Amazon. About the size of a deck of cards, it can be installed on the dashboard or rearview mirror of any vehicle. It works by using facial recognition to track movements such as blinking, yawning and looking away. When these movements indicate that the driver likely isn’t paying attention, the device will give a verbal warning. In some circumstances – such as when the driver’s eyes are closed for an extended period of time – the device will emit a loud alarm.

Why its an attractive option

With the growing trend toward autonomous vehicles, many of which come with similar alerts based on vehicle movements, such warning systems will become increasingly common. The Ridy provides an early, affordable opportunity for drivers to get on board without having to purchase a spendy new vehicle.

It’s particularly useful for teen drivers, who are both more likely to engage in distracted driving and more likely to get into accidents.

The downsides

Of course, as with any technology, there is a risk of misuse. Drivers should still use their best judgment to determine whether they’re capable of driving safely. The mere installation of the device shouldn’t give drivers free rein to get behind the wheel when they’re drowsy or possibly intoxicated.

Still, it’s a step in the right direction – especially given the prevalence of distracted driving in today’s technology-immersed world.

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