The characteristics of sleepiness during real driving at night: a study of driving performance, physiology and subjective experience.

Publisher's full text
David Sandberg
Göran Kecklund
Johan G Karlsson
Mattias Wahde
Torbjörn Åkerstedt

Most studies of sleepy driving have been carried out in driving simulators. A few studies of real driving are available, but these have used only a few sleepiness indicators. The purpose of the present study was to characterize sleepiness in several indicators during real driving at night, compared with daytime driving. Participants drove 55 km (at 90 km/h) on a 9-m-wide rural highway in southern Sweden. Daytime driving started at 09:00 or 11:00 (2 groups) and night driving at 01:00 or 03:00 (balanced design). 

Eighteen participants drawn from the local driving license register particpated in daytime and nighttime drives. The vehicle was an instrumented car with video monitoring of the edge of the road and recording of the lateral position and speed. Electroencephalography and electrooculography were recorded, together with ratings of sleepiness every 5 minutes. Pronounced effects of night driving were seen for subjective sleepiness, electroencephalographic indicators of sleepiness, blink duration, and speed. Also, time on task showed significant effects for subjective sleepiness, blink duration, lane position, and speed. Sleepiness was highest toward the end of the nighttime drive. Night driving caused a leftward shift in lateral position and a reduction of speed. The latter two findings, as well as the overall pattern of sleepiness indicators, provide new insights into the effects of night driving.

The conclusion is that night driving is associated with high levels of subjective, electrophysiologic, and behavioral sleepiness.

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