The usual methods of winding down the window or turning up the stereo to stay awake on long journeys are mediocre at best, but carmakers are working hard to develop new safety features to prevent motorists from falling asleep behind the wheel. Mercedes-Benz is testing a system that uses face-recognition software to detect if a driver is getting drowsy, while Toyota and a number of Japanese suppliers are testing car seats containing pressure-sensors that detect changes in pulse and respiration to determine how tired a driver is.

Scientists at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York have come up with another solution that’s as simple as installing some blue LEDs around the cabin. Initial testing has found that by shining blue light at certain wavelengths, a driver’s alertness can be increased and their body-clock reset.

A drawback of this method is that it’s only practical at night but researchers are investigating how the blue light affects daytime alertness of sleep-deprived and non-sleep-deprived subjects, reports New Scientist.

The researchers are already working with a number of auto parts suppliers but they claim the project is still in the early stages.