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Ford "Sleep Suit" replicates experience of drowsy driving

Drowsy driving is not only widespread but also dangerous, accounting for one in five road accidents in North Carolina and across the U.S. Experts say that remaining awake for 18 hours or more can create the same level of impairment as that experienced by a drunk driver. Now, Ford has developed a special "Sleep Suit" to raise awareness of the dangers of drowsy driving. This came just in time for World Sleep Day, which was March 15.

The suit raises awareness by simulating the experiences of a drowsy driver, in particular the microsleep episodes. These are periods where the brain involuntarily shuts down for a few seconds, making the driver blind to the road.

The Sleep Suit comes with goggles, which are connected to a smartphone app, that replicate microsleep for half a second at first and then for increasingly longer periods up to 10 seconds. The goggles go together with a specially designed and weighted cap, vest, and arm and ankle bands to complete the experience. Individuals are able to participate in a safe environment.

Ford is integrating training with the Sleep Suit into its Ford Driving Skills for Life, a free driver training program for those aged 17 to 24. Transport accidents are the leading cause of death among young people, so the new training may prove beneficial.

Those who choose to drive drowsy could be blamed for any car accidents they cause. Victims, for their part, may be able to file a claim as long as there is proof of the other's negligence. In North Carolina, a victim cannot recover damages if they are so much as 1 percent at fault, so it may be wise to retain a lawyer before filing. The lawyer may try to negotiate for a settlement with the auto insurance companies, leaving litigation as a last resort.

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