Melbourne: Drowsiness is one of the major problems while it has been estimated that one in 25 drivers over the age of 18 falls asleep at the steering. Drowsy driving is one of the most common reasons behind road accidents. According to researchers based at the University of Melbourne, Australia, sought to uncover why drivers risk dozing off at the wheel in the hope of preventing this behaviour and cutting the number of accidents.
Why you feel drowsy while driving
A new study reveals the natural vibrations of cars make people feel sleepier. Just after 15 minutes of driving, concentration and alertness levels are reduced for those behind the wheel.
- When you’re tired, it doesn’t take much to start dozing off and in this, even a gentle vibration can lull your brain and body
- When a vehicle like a car or truck is running, it emits steady vibrations at low frequencies, according to the authors of the study published in the journal Ergonomics.
- These tiny movements can make even those who are well-rested and healthy feel sleepy, the researchers believe.
To arrive at their theory, researchers recruited 15 volunteers. They were asked to sit in a virtual simulator that recreated the experience of driving on a monotonous, two-lane highway.
- In two tests, the participants were exposed to low frequencies and no vibrations, respectively.
- Their heart rate was measured throughout the hour-long test.
- The researchers found the vibrations made the participants feel tired.
- This, in turn, made it harder for them to perform mental tasks.
- The nervous system responded by changing the individual’s heart rate.
- After 15 minutes of vibration, the volunteers showed signs of drowsiness.
- After 30 minutes, they were significantly drowsy and had to try hard to stay alert and process their surroundings.
- The drowsiness reached its peak after 60 minutes.
Vibrations at different frequencies can keep you awake
According to Dr. Mohammad Fard, associated professor at the RMIT school of engineering, “vibrations at different frequencies could have the opposite effect and help keep people awake”.
If a driver becomes aware that they are becoming drowsy and losing concentration, the safest course of action is to pull over and change drivers or take a power nap.