The Distracted Driving team identified drowsy driving as one of the most pernicious forms of distracted driving, killing 1,550 and injuring 71,000 people every year. Drowsy driving is defined by the National Highway Traffic Safety Commission as the operation of a motor vehicle, while being cognitively impaired by a lack of sleep. This form of driving slows reaction time, decreases awareness, and impairs judgment. Sleep-deprived driving also negatively influences vision, information processing, and short-term memory while increasing irritability and aggressive behavior. Unlike other forms of distracted driving, such as driving while intoxicated or texting and driving, little is being done to prevent this dangerous and prevalent phenomenon.
It is the mission of the Distract Driving team to decrease the fatigue-related accidents and deaths by offering incentives for those who find themselves driving while cognitively impaired to get off the road. To accomplish this goal, the team plans to implement a mobile application that 1.) Makes the driver aware of how long he or she has been driving 2.) Encourages the driver to take a break and exit the vehicle for a period of time and 3.) Offers the driver an incentive to consume caffeine, a stimulant that will temporarily counteract the effects of sleep deprivation.
The incentive for this application’s use is a coupon that offers equivalency of a cup of coffee. This benefits the driver with a free or less expensive beverage, provides the coffee shop with additional business, and promotes responsible and conscientious driving. The program trail launch will happen in the near future during a time of high traffic to or from the Williams College campus. The Distracted Driving team plans to partner with a coffee shop along one or two specific routes between Williamstown and a popular destination, such as Boston and New York. If successful, the program will expand to other campuses and regions of the country.