Today is International Coffee Day. Which means tomorrow should be International No Sleep Day, given the number of free coffees being given away by the likes of Costa and Subway.
It also marks the 10th anniversary of Attention Assist. Introduced by Mercedes-Benz in 2009, the system recognises the typical signs of drowsiness and gives an audible warning, along with a coffee cup displayed in the instrument cluster.
It measures 70 parameters and evaluates them to detect drowsiness. If Attention Assist spots irregular steering behaviour or the driver struggling to stay in lane, up pops the coffee cup.
Wake up and smell the coffee
When we’re tired, we make small steering errors, which are followed by a sudden and erratic correction. This tends to occur in the early phase of drowsiness, usually before micro-sleep sets in. In Germany, over-tiredness is to blame for 0.7 percent of accidents with personal injuries, and around 1.2 percent of those with fatalities.
To date, more than 14 million Mercedes vehicles have left the factory with Attention Assist.
Crucially, a German study found that no accident by a Mercedes-Benz with over-tiredness as the cause has been recorded in Germany since the system was introduced as standard. A small cup of coffee can go a long way.
Attention Assist debuted on the E-Class and S-Class in 2009, but it is now standard equipment across the entire range of passenger cars. From 2022, all new cars in the European Union must have such a system.
Klaus Frenzel, head of UX design at Mercedes-Benz, said: “Take a break could not be more simply and internationally understandably illustrated than with a coffee cup. The friendly nature of this prompt is another positive aspect. After all, our vision is to provide a comprehensive experience in the car. We want drivers to feel completely at home. It is also important that the complex digital world is made as easy as possible to understand.”
Dr Michael Hafner, head of driving technologies and automated driving, added: “Preventing stress-related accidents and improving driver fitness safety is one of the major thrusts in our safety development. Assistance systems like Attention Assist, which support the driver, make their contribution to this.”
Coffee is only a short-term fix for drowsy driving. Stopping and sleeping for up to 45 minutes is the best cure, according to the National Sleep Foundation.