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Can your car keep you from getting tired while driving?

Automakers are searching for ways to reduce driver fatigue. In other words, methods to keep you chipper (and alive) until you reach your destination. Want to learn more? Check out these car safety pictures.
Johannes Kroemer/The Image Bank/Getty Images

We've all done it: The jerk and panic. You're driving along a straight, lonely stretch of highway. Your bum is sore, there's a crick in your neck, your left shoulder feels like it's on fire and the next rest stop is in the next state. You've got no choice but to keep on keepin' on.

Next thing you know, you jerk your head up and clutch the steering wheel in a panic. Were you abducted by aliens? Are you living two lives simultaneously? Did you just teleport into someone's body? Are you the guy from "Quantum Leap?" No. Nothing nearly so cool. You just got a little sleepy and nodded off while driving your car.

Luckily, companies like Nissan have your back -- literally, in the case of Nissan's "fatigue-free seats" (aka zero-gravity seats). Nissan looked at the posture the human body assumes in a weightless environment and created a seat with spinal support to recreate that posture on Earth. Not only on Earth, mind you, but on Earth in the 2012 Nissan Altima. No time travel required.

Nissan's new seats support the driver (and coming soon to a car near you, all the passengers, too) from the chest to the pelvis, which means each muscle group all along the back of your body is required to do less work. They can share the load that is your body mass. Sharing the load also improves blood flow, which keeps random parts of your body from falling asleep. All of this works together to reduce fatigue and keep you chipper and alive until you reach your destination.

But Nissan isn't the only one who wants you to stay bright-eyed and bushy-tailed while you drive. There are sensors in the works that can be placed under the seat fabric to measure your heart rate -- no sticky disks attached to your chest required. When your heart rate slows down, it signals to the sensors that you're getting sleepy -- very, very sleepy. It's up to the manufacturer of the car using the sensors to determine just how it wants to jolt you awake. Insert maniacal laughter here.