Do repeated rumble strip hits improve driver alertness?

Publisher's full text
Christopher N. Watling
Torbjörn Åkerstedt
Göran Kecklund

Driving while sleepy is associated with increased crash risk. Rumble strips are designed to alert a sleepy or inattentive driver when they deviate outside their driving lane. The current study sought to examine the effects of repeated rumble strip hits on levels of physiological and subjective sleepiness as well as simulated driving performance. In total, 36 regular shift workers drove a high-fidelity moving base simulator on a simulated road with rumble strips installed at the shoulder and centre line after a working a full night shift.

The results show that, on average, the first rumble strip occurred after 20 min of driving, with subsequent hits occurring 10 min later, with the last three occurring approximately every 5 min thereafter. Specifically, it was found that the first rumble strip hit reduced physiological sleepiness; however, subsequent hits did not increase alertness. Moreover, the results also demonstrate that increased subjective sleepiness levels, via the Karolinska Sleepiness Scale, were associated with a greater probability of hitting a rumble strip. The present results suggest that sleepiness is very resilient to even strongly arousing stimuli, with physiological and subjective sleepiness increasing over the duration of the drive, despite the interference caused by rumble strips.

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