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Wake up sleepy head: VW to the rescue

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Technology in the latest Volkswagen Touraeg SUV can warn you of hazards ahead at night and wake you up if you fall asleep when behind the wheel.

The car’s optional Emergency Assist will detect when a driver is not focused on the road, possibly because they have fallen asleep or suffered a medical episode.

If, after a short period of time, the sensors detect no steering, braking or acceleration activity on the part of the driver, the system activates various escalation stages.

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Initially, the system attempts to wake the driver by pulsing the brakes and warns other drivers of the potential danger by triggering the hazard lights while weaving left and right within the lane, before finally a controlled stop is automatically initiated.

The Touareg, which has a full five-star Euro NCAP safety rating, is also available with Night Vision Assist, which detects infrared rays given off by people and animals up to 130 metres away.

Drivers are made aware of wildlife and pedestrians by a thermal imaging camera.

The system uses the dashboard display to show a black and white image created by the night vision system and the camera then marks the hazards in amber or red, depending on the risk they pose.

When a hazard is detected, the car’s brakes are primed for optimum braking in case the driver needs to make an emergency stop.

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The new VW Touareg Black Edition is also fitted with state-of-the-art LED-matrix headlights.

Each headlight contains 128 LEDs which adapt constantly to driving conditions in order to avoid dazzling other road users.

Drowsy drivers

Volkswagen conducted a survey which found More than one fifth (22 per cent) of drivers said they had found themselves nodding off to sleep on the road – with 3.7 per cent admitting they had fallen asleep at the wheel.

A quarter said they lost their concentration in the dark, causing them to veer out of the lane they were in.

And eight per cent said they often feel uncomfortable driving at night because they’re worried they might fall asleep.

Fatigue was the cause of 62 fatal road accidents and more than 1,500 RTAs on UK roads in 2018, according to the most recent Department for Transport records.

But while the official figure is 2 per cent, it is estimated by the DVLA that 20 per cent of accidents on motorways and monotonous road types may be caused by the driver nodding off at the wheel.

About Gareth Herincx

Gareth is a versatile journalist, copywriter and digital editor who's worked across the media in newspapers, magazines, TV, teletext, radio and online. After long stints at the BBC, GMTV and ITV, he now specialises in motoring.

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