Observer Rated Sleepiness and Real Road Driving: An Explorative Study

Publisher's full text
David Hallvig
Torbjörn Åkerstedt
Göran Kecklund

The aim of the present study was to explore if observer rated sleepiness (ORS) is a feasible method for quantification of driver sleepiness in field studies. Two measures of ORS were used:

  1. one for behavioural signs based on facial expression, body gestures and body movements labelled B-ORS, and
  2. one based on driving performance e.g. if swerving and other indicators of impaired driving occurs, labelled D-ORS

A limited number of observers sitting in the back of an experimental vehicle on a motorway about 2 hours repeatedly 3 times per day (before lunch, after lunch, at night) observed 24 participant's sleepiness level with help of the two observer scales. At the same time the participant reported subjective sleepiness (KSS), EOG was recorded (for calculation of blink duration) and several driving measure were taken and synchronized with the reporting.

Based on mixed model Anova and correlation analysis the result showed that observer ratings of sleepiness based on drivers' impaired performance and behavioural signs are sensitive to extend the general pattern of time awake, circadian phase and time of driving. The detailed analysis of the subjective sleepiness and ORS showed weak correspondence on an individual level. Only 16% of the changes in KSS were predicted by the observer. The correlation between the observer ratings based on performance (D-ORS) and behavioural signs (B-ORS) are high (r =. 588), and the B-ORS shows a moderately strong association (r =. 360) with blink duration. Both ORS measures show an association (r>0.45) with KSS, whereas the association with driving performance is weak.

The results show that the ORS-method detects the expected general variations in sleepy driving in field studies, however, sudden changes in driver sleepiness on a detailed level as 5 minutes is usually not detected; this holds true both when taking into account driving behaviour or driver behavioural signs.

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