Speech Analyzer Could Tell If You’re Too Drowsy To Drive

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MIAMI (CBSMiami) — Getting enough sleep is crucial for good health and for staying safe on the road. Speech scientists in the UK are developing a system that reveals when people are too tired to drive.

“They’re driving 6-7 hours, then you get tired and you seem them going all the way on the road,” explained Frans Snijders, a truck driver who sees tired drivers swerving all the time.

British speech scientists say a driver’s voice can reveal just how tired they are behind the wheel. They have developed an audio algorithm to extract information that reveals fatigue.

“We can see these very subtle changes that occur even within a day, even within one shift of work,” explained Mark Huckvale, a professor of Speech Science at University College London.

Researchers from University College London analyzed the speech of a driver during his shift every two hours.  They found changes in the pitch, rhythm and quality of the worker’s voice showed his level of tiredness.

“What we’re trying to do is build a model of a person’s voice by making multiple recordings over a period of time,” said Huckvale.

Experts from the Centers for Disease Control say good sleep is crucial for all drivers.  They found too little could lead to slower reaction times and put you at risk for obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes.

Drowsy drivers cause thousands of fatal crashes each year. 20-percent of road accidents in the UK are sleep related.

“Perhaps the worst thing that could happen is the controller would say ‘look, you’re sounding very tired, we suggest you just stop and have a break for 30 minutes before you carry on’.”

British scientists say spotting fatigue could save lives and they hope to create a commercial device in the next few years.

Researchers say the device would be a type of system inside the vehicle that record a driver’s voice and sends it to a fatigue-monitoring center.

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