Dangerous Drowsy Driving

WARNING: Don’t get in your car again when you’re tired without having read some or all of the following information.

Here’s an excellent website to teach us more about drowsy driving – and specifically a page where you can view and download research articles by distinguished scientists including Dr Murray Johns the retired Melbourne Sleep Physician who invented the Optalert: http://www.optalert.com/research.html.

Research subjects include the duration of eyelid movements during blinks, monitoring eye and eyelid movement changes with drowsiness and drowsiness monitoring technologies

The excellent information on this site includes the following statistics:

  • 28% of heavy vehicle license holders reported having fallen asleep while driving.
  • And hows this from the US? 47% of drivers surveyed said they had fallen asleep at the wheel at one time. Eech.
  • Up to 40% of crashes on highways are attributed to drowsiness.
  • Up to 30% of truck fatalities and 52% of major crash insurance claims are fatigue related.
  • Drivers with less than 6 hours sleep are 2.5 times more likely to doze off.
  • Too often a driver only recognises drowsiness in hindsight.

Next time you’re driving whilst tired know that “a drowsy driver who causes an accident may be as legally culpable as a drunk driver” – and that culpability is now extended in the transport industry to transport industry managers, not just drivers.

We know that schedules are sometimes punishing, and drivers are expected to sleep while waiting to offload their cargo etc. – is that why they’re called deadlines?

If you’re a little apprehensive when you’re driving with heavy trucks there’s evidence to support your concern.

Optalert glasses constantly monitor the level of alertness of drivers to help manage the danger of drowsiness. Unfortunately the glasses are not available for general use yet.

Here’s an ABC interview about it with Maxine McKew of the 7.30 Report in 2005: http://www.abc.net.au/7.30/content/2005/s1470595.htm

Some actions we can take that would help:

  1. Don’t drive when you are tired, or your eyes are starting to feel tired
  2. Sleep by the side of the road at the first sign of tiredness, not when you have pushed yourself a bit longer – early action is better
  3. Always take in your car some relaxation music – so you can pull by the side of the road, and actually have a sleep. (I’ve talked about some ideas in previous posts.)
  4. Take the 10 Minute Supercharger CD with you in the car (or downloaded into your iPod) – paraliminal technology to be used when the car is stationery only (careful!). This is like the power-power-nap. Not a complete solution, but it will help maximise a rest on the side of the road.
  5. Leave an eye-mask in the glove box so you can sleep better beside the road.
  6. Yes, “Stop Revive Survive” – Take a break after every 2 hours of driving.
  7. And sorry about this corny one… but ‘better late than never’

10-Minute Supercharger (Paraliminal CD)

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