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Drowsy Drivers Wake-Up at The George Washington University’s Virginia Campus

Tip Sheet on GW Center for Intelligent Systems Research Project on Drowsy Drivers

Driver fatigue is the cause of an estimated 100,000 crashes annually resulting in more than 40,000 injuries according to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration. Fatality Analysis Reporting System indicates an annual average of 1,544 fatalities due to driver drowsiness related accidents. Fatigue is involved in 10 to 40 percent of crashes on long motorways and 15 percent of fatal single vehicle truck crashes.

At The George Washington University Virginia Campus, researchers are finding ways to reverse these startling trends. The Center for Intelligent Systems Research (CISR) housed at the Virginia Campus in Loudon County has developed an efficient, inconspicuous drowsy driver detection system to keep drivers alert and awake.

Using artificial neural networks, a scientific discipline that attempts to mimic the brain’s neuron processing function for items such as pattern recognition, signal processing, and control systems, researchers are able to track and classify steering behavior. The system can detect the differences between drowsy driver behaviors vs. non-drowsy driver steering. In simulator studies, the system distinguished between drowsy and non-drowsy drivers with 90 percent accuracy.

CISR uses car and truck driving simulator laboratories at GW’s Virginia Campus to evaluate the drowsy driver detection system. CISR’s drowsy driver experiments in these simulators have revealed drivers’ steering behavior deteriorates for up to 2-3 minutes before an eminent crash. This dangerous behavior can be detected by CISR’s smart signal processing system well in advance of a potential accident and help motorists avoid hazardous drowsy driving conditions.

The drowsy driver detection system is just one of 9 research projects currently being conducted at CISR. A major focus of the center’s research is on safety in Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS). CISR uses the fundamental intelligent systems methods to solve a variety of highway safety, vehicle control, rail transportation, and networks problems leading to cutting-edge research that leads to safer, more efficient transportation.

For additional information, contact:

Professor Azim Eskandarian, director, Center for Intelligent Systems Research


Phone: 703-726-8362 or 202-994-0532

For more information on CISR’s drowsy driver research, please visit

For more information on CISR, please visit


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