Figures from the State Traffic Police and Transport Department reveal that the number of fatal traffic accidents has increased steadily, from 11,034 in 2007 to 12,727 last year. Two engineering students have come up with an innovative idea that might help to combat the deadly trend of the spiralling number of traffic accidents. Sundeep Raj V., Shalom Raj D. and Vimal Raj R. of the S.A. Engineering College, under the supervision of Professor Geetha Krishnan, have invented a transport safety device that could potentially save lives.

The transport safety system, termed the ‘Intelligent distraction and health identification using controller area network', is a wireless communication system that can monitor the distraction level and health conditions of the driver, and act as a co-pilot.

The premise of the project is that the two major causes of accidents – driving distractions and health ailments, are preventable through detection.

The three final year students of the Electronics and Communications Engineering said they were spurred to action after witnessing a fatal accident on their way to college. “Many elders and small children died due to reckless driving of a State Transport Corporation bus.driver, who was using the mobile phone while driving,” said Sundeep. Shalom added that there are also road accidents involving drivers who had suffered heart attacks while driving.

How it works?

The transport guard consists of a Micro Electro-Mechanical Systems (MEMS) gyroscope, a distance sensor, and Electrocardiogram (ECG) electrodes.

The MEMS gyroscope, when secured to the driver's head, senses the distraction level of the driver. Any sudden or prolonged abnormal head movements will result in signal transmissions to an add-on component called the Automatic Transmission Circuit. The signals will stop the working of the manual transmission, thereby bringing the vehicle to a safe halt. The distance sensor, affixed to the front of the vehicle, can detect the inter-vehicle distance and stop the vehicle gradually. The ECG electrodes, attached to the left and right hands and the left leg, senses the heart rate and any irregularities, which again sends signals.

The transport safety guard is not without its drawbacks.But the drivers might be uncomfortable having the device attached to their bodies, thus reducing the feasibility of implementing it. However, the students say that the device can be refined. It is possible to upgrade the device into a wireless system, but costs will increase exponentially.

Sundeep and Shalom, who have passed out of college and are about to join their jobs at Sutherland, plan to take this project to Hyundai and Ford. “If mass production takes place, it is possible to make wireless models of the device at a low cost,” said Shalom. Furthermore, the upgraded model would also be able to send radio frequency signals to hospitals in case of an emergency in the vehicle.

Despite the modifications needed to make this project a truly feasible one, it is a commendable effort by students to apply classroom knowledge to solve real-life problems.

Linette has graduated from the Singapore Management University with a bachelor's degree in Business Management.