Eyes reveal drowsy drivers’ secrets
Eyes reveal drowsy drivers’ secrets

Research continues in Victoria into technology that can identify driver fatigue with a roadside test.

Trials are underway that use pupil scanning to detect tired drivers’ levels off distraction.

Drivers travelling on just three hours sleep are ten times more likely to be involved in a crash.

Supported by Road Safety Victoria and the TAC, the trial kept participants awake for up to 32 hours before a two-hour drive on a controlled track, supervised by a qualified instructor in a dual-controlled vehicle.

They then took three further drive tests – after three and five hours of sleep in a 24-hour period, and again after eight hours of sleep.

Drivers were tested before and after their drive with a scanner that measures involuntary movement of their pupils – which has shown strong links to increased levels of sleep deprivation, leading to less focused and more distracted drivers.

The study also collected a range of behavioural, physiological and driver performance data like brain electrical activity, lane deviations, speed variations and changes in reaction time to show the effects of excessive fatigue on a driver.

The results of the study, funded by an $850,000 grant by the Victorian Government, will be analysed to inform how the trial could be implemented in real-world settings, with the potential to conduct roadside testing to identify and support drivers who are on the roads while excessively fatigued.

Current figures show fatigued drivers are involved in up to 20 per cent of crashes and 11 per cent of fatalities on Victorian roads.

Road Safety Victoria is leading the study in partnership with the Transport Accident Commission, working closely with Monash University, Victoria Police and the Cooperative Research Consortium for Alertness.

Monash University Associate Professor Clare Anderson said: “The risk of a crash increases significantly with lack of sleep – and this trial has demonstrated that it is possible to reliably detect excessively fatigued drivers in a roadside context.”

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