Snooze alert

Q&A with Sharon Peters

Q: I heard on “Today” that Nissan has a new technology coming out that alerts the driver who’s falling asleep at the wheel. They explained a little about how it works, but did not say when this car will be out. We don’t have a Nissan dealership in our area so I can’t call to find that out, but we’re willing to drive the 250 miles to check one out if it’s coming out soon and is as good as billed because my husband is a salesman who travels constantly. He’s careful, but I worry.

A: The technology you are asking about – the Driver Attention Alert (DAA) – will be available on the 2016 Nissan Maxima, which Nissan says will arrive on lots this coming summer. It is already available on the 2015 Murano.

The way this technology works, according to Nissan, is this: The system analyzes a driver’s normal steering behavior (it adapts to each driver who gets behind the wheel), constantly monitoring it, and when that behavior changes, presumably because of drowsiness or inattention, the car sends out an alert. The alert consists of an amber coffee cup symbol in the middle of the instrument panel and an audible chime warning signal.

According to a recent study released by AAA, about 300,000 crashes a year are the result of drowsy drivers; 6,400 of them are fatal. The system will also help address inattention of other sorts, Nissan says, though it points out that “it does not detect and provide an alert in every situation,” therefore “it is the driver’s responsibility to remain alert at all times.”

The system can be turned off by the driver at any time, which, of course, will be regarded as a downside among those of us who wish the alert were on all cars because we’ve had the misfortune of driving near a texting driver (obvious from the drift to the side and quick jerk back onto course when the driver finally tears eyes away from the screen and rights the course). None of us supposes a driver determined to text will leave on the system that warns him or her that he’s careening all over the highway, putting all of us at risk.

© CTW Features

What’s your question? Sharon Peters would like to hear about what’s on your mind when it comes to caring for, driving and repairing your vehicle. Email