There are various devices on the market, including those with a price of several thousand dollars that monitor head angle and driver actions as a measure of sleepiness. Once algorithmically determined to be drifting off to sleep, the driver is alerted via vibration, sound, or lights. Cheaper devices attached to the ear also alert the driver with vibration or noise also wake up sleepy drivers as they fall asleep and nod their heads. The disadvantage of startling and waking up a sleeping driver, especially one driving at high speeds, is obvious. Even if successful, this approach does not address slow reaction times and a lack of alertness that increases accident risks during night time driving. Other alternatives to Optilert are artificial chemical stimulants, and home remedies with, at best, short-lived effects. Chemical stimulants are prone to abuse, and are harmful even with moderate use. Home remedies, despite widespread general acceptance, really offer only a false sense of security to the severe and growing problem of serious driver fatigue.
Optilert, while unique as a device, builds on solid science for its effectiveness. Longstanding research has shown that alertness and sleepiness are strongly coupled to thermoregulation in the distal extremities (Krauchi, et al, 2005). As distal temperatures increase, levels of sleepiness increase and, conversely, as distal temperatures decrease, levels of sleepiness decrease (Krauchi et al, 2005).
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