By Stephanie Stahl

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Researchers are working on technology that can tell if drivers are too tired to drive based on how they talk.

Tired drivers cause countless accidents as not getting enough sleep slows reaction times and some people can fall asleep behind the wheel.

Now speech scientists in the United Kingdom are developing a system that detects when people are too tired to drive.

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Frans Snijders spends thousands of hours in his truck each month and says he sees a lot of tired drivers.

“They’re driving six to seven hours, then you get tired and you see them going all the way on the road,” he said.

British speech scientists say a driver’s voice can reveal just how tired they are behind the wheel.

They’ve developed an audio algorithm to extract information that reveals fatigue.

“We can see these very subtle changes that occur even within a day, even within one shift of work,” said Mark Huckvale, professor of speech science at the University College London.

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Researchers analyzed the speech of a driver during his shift every two hours. They found changes in the pitch, rhythm and quality of the worker’s voice showed his level of tiredness.

“What we’re trying to do is build a model of a person’s voice by making multiple recordings over a period of time,” said Huckvale.

Drowsy drivers cause thousands of fatal crashes each year.

Scientists say spotting fatigue could save lives and they hope to create a commercial device in the next few years.

Researchers say the device they’re working on would be a type of system inside the vehicle that would record a driver’s voice and send it to a fatigue monitoring center.

The driver would then, theoretically, be warned it’s not safe to drive.

Stephanie Stahl