China is using lasers to stop drivers from falling asleep
China's testing lasers on highways to prevent driver fatigue. These "anti-sleep lasers" aim to keep drivers alert with bright, colorful displays. YouTube Screenshot / joaco @shortsbyjoaco

As part of their attempt to combat drowsy driving and boost road safety, Chinese authorities have implemented a novel traffic system: flashing coloured laser light beams from machines installed on highway markers to keep drivers alert. A video showcasing this system's operation is already getting significant online attention.

Dubbed "high-speed anti-fatigue laser lights," these systems project dazzling displays of coloured light overhead on highways, aiming to keep drivers alert. Road safety authorities suggest this initiative could serve as an alternative to pulling over for rest.

The freeway signs along the 1,600-kilometer Qingdao-Yinchuan Expressway, which links the coastal city of Qingdao to Ningxia in north-central China, now serve as mounts for the lasers.

China's High-Tech Fight Against Sleepy Drivers

While the original video posted by Science Girl, a social media account known for sharing innovative technology, is no longer available, it captured the essence of the system.

According to Science Girl, the caption explained that "Mr. Li, the person behind the camera, reported that these laser lights designed to combat fatigue quickly revitalised him and reduced his exhaustion during a prolonged nighttime."

This initiative aims to utilise the lights' eye-catching properties. By alternating between red, purple, blue, and green beams in a disco-like fashion, the lights are designed to keep drowsy drivers alert and minimise the risk of accidents.

This design has drawn comparisons to the vibrant Rainbow Road course from the popular "Mario Kart" video game series, as noted by numerous users on Reddit.

The video garnered over 68 million views on platform X, but it also sparked debate in the comments section, with many users questioning the system's practicality. One commenter expressed concern, stating, "Who's genius idea is it to blind the drivers? Congrats, those who aren't sleepy are now disoriented."

Some viewers expressed concern that the lights could be distracting, raising the question: "Doesn't this distract the driver more? Instead of looking at the road, he'll be looking at the lights?" Some believe that even if the lights jolt you awake, their intensity might hinder your ability to see clearly.

China's Technological Breakthroughs

"I would guess it probably does reduce sleeping accidents. but I would also bet that it increases distraction accidents more than it helps with sleeping," Another X user responded.

Safety concerns were also raised regarding the potential impact of the flashing lights on drivers with photosensitive epilepsy. One commenter simply stated, "What about people with epilepsy?" Additionally, some are worried about the effect of bright lights on drivers with astigmatism.

China has a well-deserved reputation for pushing the boundaries of technology. Last month, headlines buzzed with news of significant progress by Chinese scientists in developing hyper-realistic humanoid robots. These robots, it's claimed, possess an uncanny ability to mimic human facial expressions and emotions.

China's embrace of technology extends beyond cutting-edge research. Take, for instance, e-commerce schools where students hone their skills in selling clothes to international TikTok users. This exemplifies another way Chinese citizens are leveraging technology in their daily lives.

China's use of lasers to combat drowsy driving on highways is a novel attempt to leverage technology for road safety. The system's effectiveness remains to be seen, but it highlights China's position at the forefront of technological innovation.

From hyper-realistic robots to e-commerce training focused on global platforms, China is constantly seeking new ways that technology can improve and reshape various aspects of life.