Safety experts at Mercedes-Benz are turning their attentions to one of the principal causes of serious traffic accidents: over-fatigue. The objective of their work is to develop a system that is capable of recognising fatigue in time to warn the driver. Over the course of this development project, the engineers from the Mercedes-Benz Technology Centre have already conducted tests with over 200 motorists, both in the driving simulator and on motorways. The revolutionary new system should be ready for series production in just a few years’ time.
According to official statistics in Germany, around 0.5 per cent of all serious traffic accidents are caused by “over-fatigue”. Last year, the police put a total of 3034 accidents down to fatigue, including 1786 collisions resulting in personal injury. This equates to some 0.5 per cent of all serious accidents. Experts believe that the true figure is much higher, however, as it is often impossible to detect and verify signs of fatigue by the time accidents are reconstructed. Various scientific studies estimate that between 10 and 20 per cent of serious traffic accidents can be attributed to drowsiness. According to an investigation carried out by insurance companies in Germany, fatigue is responsible for one in four fatal motorway accidents. The probability of being killed in an accident resulting from fatigue is 2.5 times higher than for all other causes of accidents.