A study has shown that drivers who have interrupted sleep or little sleep at all are just as dangerous as those who drive whilst drunk.
The research carried out by Time4Sleep, a bed and furniture retailer, involved a set of triplets, as they were brought up in the same environment and would “think alike”.
In conjunction with the Transport Research Laboratory, 27-year-olds Patrick, Robert and Steven Davis drew straws to see who would get a full night’s sleep, interrupted sleep or no sleep at all.
Robert drew the long straw and got uninterrupted sleep, a simulator baby disrupted Steven in his sleep and Patrick drew the short straw and had no sleep whatsoever.
The following morning, each triplet took the same test at the TRL facilities, which was a 90-minute drive along a motorway at 60 miles per hour in the inside lane to see how each triplet coped on a long drive. Also every time a red light appeared on the screen in front of them, they had to flash their lights to test their reaction times.
After each triplet had taken the test, the results produced were quite startling. It showed that disrupted sleep increased fatigue and the chance of falling asleep at the wheel, and also almost doubled the amount of times the driver left his assigned lane.
These pale in comparison to the no-sleep results, as Patrick had three times the fatigue alerts of Steven and almost five times the amount of incidents of falling asleep at the wheel.
With a good night’s sleep, Rob didn’t suffer from any fatigue and also moved out of his lane the least, showing just how important a good night’s sleep is to your driving.
TRL’s principal psychologist, Simon Tong, commented: “The findings of our experiment reveal just how important it is to only undertake driving when feeling alert and having had sufficient sleep. The key finding was how affected Steven was with disrupted sleep as this is the most common in real life.”
Steven Davis said: “I found the drive really difficult. I was really tired and towards the end I drifted between all three lanes. It brings it quite close to home knowing that if you’ve got a little boy or girl it’s dangerous having broken sleep.”
After completing his university studies in English and Creative Writing in Cardiff, Jack is now a full time motoring writer at Blackball Media. His love of cars stems from his childhood years when he began to live and breathe all-things automotive.