Michigan State Police are testing a new device called EyeCheck which is intended to detect fatigue by measuring how a driver's eyes respond to light.
Troopers will use two of the binocular-like devices this summer to test truckers who volunteer during routine traffic stops. The exercise takes less than a minute. During the test period, police cannot use the results to penalize the driver.
Drivers who look into the EyeCheck see a series of flashes. A laptop computer linked to the device measures how long it takes the pupil to react to the light. The inventors, sleep researchers John Dal Santo and Judi Gerstein, says the device combines the science of pupillometry with high-powered computers.
The devices cost $7,500 and will be on loan from inventors MCJ Inc. of Rockford, IL.
Critics of the new technology raise legal and scientific questions. The courts, for instance, may not accept the results as a reliable measure of fatigue. Transportation researchers at Virginia Tech expressed skepticism about the technology, which has yet to pass scientific scrutiny.
Michigan isn't the only state looking at the device. The Illinois state legislature recently passed a bill authorizing state police to do an 18-month pilot project using EyeCheck to test for fatigue and drug use among motorists, also on a voluntary basis. Minnesota is also working with the technology.