It is not a secret that driving while sleepy is extremely dangerous, but new research is showing why we are so sleepy while driving or even while driving. It also supports the fact that we must find a solution quickly.
According to new research, driving makes us lethargic, even when we are more alert. Experiments show that while they are in motion, the cars emit a low-frequency vibration that begins to make both drivers and passengers feel sleepy after only 15 minutes of exposure!
In this study, 15 test subjects were subjected to a road driving simulation and the researchers monitored the variability of their heart rate. HRV is a good drowsiness test because it detects changes in the central nervous system that occurs when we feel physically tired. The data support the claim that the driver takes only 15 minutes to feel tired and 30 minutes for fatigue to have a noticeable effect on the driver. It was also found that drowsiness levels increased steadily throughout the duration of the experiment.
In addition, the driving simulation was not an extremely accurate representation of the real thing. However, the extreme fatigue and its effects are extremely remarkable. With more research, automakers should change part of the design of the cars to reduce vibration, such as changing the configuration of car seats. But, that may take a while, so road safety specialists should calculate the maximum amount of time a driver can and should drive before drowsiness has adverse effects.
Either way, a solution must be found, since 1 in 5 fatal accidents are due to at least one drowsy driver. For now, all we can do is take preventive measures to avoid extreme drowsiness while driving. Part of the problem is that some drivers are already asleep when they get behind the wheel. In fact, 60% of Americans admit to being behind the wheel while feeling tired and 37% report that they have fallen asleep.
Those numbers are crazy, especially because previous research has shown that driving while sleepy has the same effects on your driving as if driving under the influence of alcohol. Experts say that if you drive after staying awake for 18 straight hours, it has the same impact as having a BAC of 0.05 (when the legal limit is 0.08). Also, after staying awake for 24 hours or having a restless night’s sleep, your driving skills are affected in the same way as if you had a BAC of 0.10.
If you choose to drive when you are tired and a collision occurs, you may be able to bid farewell to your cheap auto insurance, since your premiums will probably increase. But, sometimes, drivers are not aware of how fatigued they really are and have difficulty judging if / when they will fall asleep. Therefore, if you notice that you or someone else who drives has any of these symptoms, it is a telltale sign that they need to rest for a while before continuing.
Difficulty to focus
Drifting/getting too close to other vehicles
Having trouble keeping your head up
These are just some signs that the driver is sleepy and should get off the road as soon as possible. Hopefully, experts can find an effective solution to help drivers stay alert in a combined effort with numbed civilians, avoiding getting behind the wheel to minimize the deaths caused by driving and feeling tired.