When Drowsy Driving is NOT Your Fault


Snooze mobiles: How vibrations in cars make drivers sleepy

(Headline Health) The mere act of driving or riding in a car can make you drowsy, researchers are now saying.

It’s a great fact to keep in mind if you are ever pulled over and questioned about your driving. Here are the findings as reported by Science Daily …

(Science Daily) New research has found the natural vibrations of cars make people sleepier, affecting concentration and alertness levels just 15 minutes after drivers get behind the wheel.

With about 20 percent of fatal road crashes involving driver fatigue, researchers from RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia, hope their findings can be used by manufacturers to improve car seat designs to help keep drivers awake.

Professor Stephen Robinson said the effects of physical vibration on drivers were not well understood, despite growing evidence that vibration contributes to feelings of sleepiness.

“We know 1 in 5 Australians have fallen asleep at the wheel and we know that drowsy driving is a significant issue for road safety,” Robinson said.

“When you’re tired, it doesn’t take much to start nodding off and we’ve found that the gentle vibrations made by car seats as you drive can lull your brain and body.

“Our study shows steady vibrations at low frequencies — the kind we experience when driving cars and trucks — progressively induce sleepiness even among people who are well rested and healthy.

“From 15 minutes of getting in the car, drowsiness has already begun to take hold. In half an hour, it’s making a significant impact on your ability to stay concentrated and alert.

“To improve road safety, we hope that future car seat designs can build in features that disrupt this lulling effect and fight vibration-induced sleepiness.”

Led by chief investigators Associate Professor Mohammad Fard and Professor Stephen Robinson, the research team tested 15 volunteers in a virtual simulator that replicates the experience of driving on a monotonous two-lane highway. Read the full story at Science Daily. 

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