New roadside test will identify fatigued drivers

12.00 | 24 February 2017 |

Researchers in Australia are developing a roadside test designed to identify tired drivers, and keep them off the road.

The ‘smart glasses’ – the result of a collaboration between the health services provider Austin Health and the Institute for Breathing and Sleep – track eye movements and measure the length of blinks. The researchers hope the product will help police ‘dramatically reduce fatigue-related road death’.

Associate professor Mark Howard and his team say they have successfully tested the technology in laboratories and off-road driving simulations, and are now working on a ‘one-size-fits-all-test’ that police could use to scientifically determine if someone is too tired to drive.

As part of the Australian project, researchers studied drowsiness in night-shift workers during driving tests and found a tenfold increase in ‘microsleeps’ and double the number of lane crossings. They also found drivers struggled to keep their eyes open and had more trouble staying in the middle of a lane.

The researchers believe the technology could hold the key to changing driver behaviour toward getting behind-the-wheel while tired, in the same way the breathalyser changed attitudes towards drink-driving.

DtT figures show that during 2015, fatigue was recorded by police as a contributory factor in 4% of fatal accidents and 2% of serious injury accidents in the UK.

However, the UK’s Road Safety Observatory suggests that sleep-related collisions are under-reported and in fact are more likely to account for 16% to 20% of all collisions.

Want to know more about driver fatigue and road safety? 
Key facts and summaries of research reports – visit the Road Safety Observatory
Online library of research and reports etc – visit the Road Safety Knowledge Centre


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