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Seat belt keeps you from falling asleep at the wheel (Video)

Friday - 7/25/2014, 9:14am  ET

Nicole Curtis, special to wtop.com

WASHINGTON -- Most drowsy drivers turn the radio up or put the windows down when trying to stay awake at the wheel. But there is now a new seat belt, which alerts you when you're in danger of falling asleep at the wheel.

The technology, named the Harken, measures the driver's heart rate and breathing, using a sensor system in the seat belt and seat cover, according to the Daily Mail. If the rates drop to a certain point, a warning alarm rings.

Watch a video about the technology

Jose Sola of the Biomechanics Institute in Valencia, Spain, where the Harken is being developed, explained the technology to the Daily Mail.

"The variation in heart and respiratory rate are good indicators of the state of the driver as they are related to fatigue. Harken can monitor those variables and therefore warn the driver before the symptoms appear," Sola said to the Daily Mail.

According to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, crashes involving drowsy drivers are 50 percent more likely to result in death or serious injury. Sleepiness reduces reaction time, which is a critical element of safe driving.

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