Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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Dead Trucker's Handle

Are you awake?
  (+14, -2)(+14, -2)
(+14, -2)
  [vote for,

Every now and then, truck drivers lose control of their vehicles with predictably unpleasant consequences. Usually this is caused by the driver falling asleep having run out of amphetamines, but occasionally heart attacks, fits and other unpredictable events play a part.

This system relies on fine wires woven into the surface of the steering wheel which use standard electrostatic touch sensing circuitry to determine whether there is a hand on the wheel or not. If the driver lets go of the wheel with both hands the steering will lock in the position keeping the truck on course. After a couple of seconds (long enough to catch that cup of coffee tumbling off the dash) the hazard lights will be activated and the brakes gently applied bringing the vehicle to a controlled stop.

Obviously this won't save the day if the driver has fallen asleep with his hands on the wheel, but it will save lives, be reasonable cheap to build in at the design stage, and best of all does not require the driver to attach any monitoring equipment to him or herself.

wagster, Nov 12 2005

"The Long Haul Driving Cap" http://www.sinceslicedbread.com/idea/5787
of which [subflower] spoke. [angel, Nov 17 2005]

Also here http://www.abc.net....epublish_307679.htm
[angel, Nov 17 2005]


       buggar, I fell asleep.
po, Nov 12 2005

       Truckers use citizens band radios to monitor traffic and police presence, and the nicknames they use on the air are their "handles". I keep trying to figure out how using the nickname of a deceased driver fits into all this.
normzone, Nov 13 2005

       I thought it was referring to their handlebar moustaches.
Texticle, Nov 13 2005

       Falling asleep at the wheel is a big problem. I suspect a lot of crashes happen with hands still on the wheel. Peoplewhofall asleep in a lecture do not dramatically crumple to the floor - they sit upright, pen in hand for some time before they start nodding.   

       This could be studied by watching sleep deprived people in driving simulators. I wonder if it has been done?
bungston, Nov 14 2005

       Dead truckers don't need handles, they can be picked up just like everyone else.
Ling, Nov 14 2005

       Whether there's a hand on the wheel isn't the only way to tell whether someone's sleeping. I'm thinking electrodes. And why just go straight? Why not keep following the road? AI drivers are coming in the next few years, you know. <3
mungojelly, Nov 14 2005

       //Railroad locomotives use a device called a deadman's bar for the same reason.// In some loco's they were called Dead Man's Handles - hence the title.   

       //what if the road is curved?// //Why not keep following the road?// That's why "the steering will lock in position" and not lock dead ahead, so that the truck will continue to follow the curve of the road. See? All carefully thought out. Still haven't got around [Pa've]'s last objection though.
wagster, Nov 14 2005

       [Sort of Baked]   

       They came up with a baseball cap that notices when the trucker's head moves past a certain angle, as would happen when s'he 'nods off' and an alarm sounds loudly, thus 'waking' the driver.   

       With this cap I'd be concerned with the startled reaction from the driver, jerking the wheel in one direction or another.
subflower, Nov 17 2005

       I've been turning this one over in my head for a while now and I think there might be a better way. It's important that the driver mustn't have to attach anything to himself, e.g. baseball cap/electrodes etc. as this will create a lot of opposition.   

       Image recognition software is coming on in leaps and bounds these days and should be able to check whether the driver has his eyes open or not by judicious use of a camera in the cab. This would be a much better indication of awakeness, but it would need to be 100% reliable and I doubt it could do that just yet.
wagster, Nov 17 2005

       [also sort of baked] Have you seen the simpsons episode where Homer becomes a trucker?
Paradiddlellogram, Nov 17 2005

       Yup. Very [sort of], but similar I will grant you.
wagster, Nov 17 2005

       [subflower], I know of some truck stops that refuse to carry the batteries for those devices, in that they encourage drivers to go past their safe limits.   

       In my hitchhiking days I had a few rides from truckers who only picked me up to keep them awake...some scary rides, asked them a lot of questions, and when I ran out of questions, I'd just start over again.
normzone, Nov 18 2005

       I've heard of buttons on trains - specifically, those used to open the doors - that don't work if you're using gloves. 'Electrostatic touch sensing' sounds like exactly the sort of technology that might not work with gloves, since it makes me think it requires something to carry a low current, like human skin?
Snuffkin, Nov 18 2005

       Correct [snuffkin], I was assuming a no-glove scenario.
wagster, Nov 18 2005

       "Reaper, this is the Widowmaker. Where 'ya goin' in such a hurry? There's some black and whites 'round the bend of Dead Man's Curve, so keep your eyes peeled. Come back."
"Ten-four, Widowmaker. I'm haulin' a load of meat off to the slaughterhouse, and have a deadline to keep, but thanks for the warnin."
RayfordSteele, Nov 19 2005


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