Evidence of Undetected Micro-sleeps
- A factor or combination of factors can lead to drowsy driving.
- However, some drivers have sleep disorders such as sleep apneoa, narcolepsy or insomnia which increase crash risks considerably .These sleep disorders may be undiagnosed and/ or untreated. In such instances drivers can 'blackout' without warning.
- External factors such as bright light shining in a drowsy drivers eyes or a front seat sleeper may result in a drowsy driving crash.
In a TV-3 Inside New Zealand documentary "Asleep at the Wheel", an experiment deprived a young builder of sleep for 24 hours and then required him to drive a car simulator whilst hooked up to a polysomniograph (a machine that can detect when you fall asleep).
After 19 minutes he was forced to stop the experiment because he thought he was falling asleep. However, the polysomniograph showed that he had already had seven micro-sleeps. These were seven micro-sleeps that he had not been unaware of !
Long Distance Myth
Like many people you may have mistakingly believed that drowsy-driving crashes are purely a long distance driving phenomena. Long distance is but one factor. However, long distances can bring out your true level of sleepiness. You can be sleep deprived travel short distances and have a drowsy driving crash.
Close to Home
Indeed research shows that a higher percentage of drowsy-driving crashes occur in urban areas, and ten minutes from home.
The remains of Ann's three year old Mitsubishi Mirage after falling asleep driving home on her 12 minute trip home from work. Courtesy: Ann Kuklinski, Taranaki.
Close to Home
So, you're a 'finisher', known for your tenacity. You always finish what you start. It might be a university degree, a four day tramp or just a two kilometre jog around the park. Whatever it is, you always finish. Now imagine that you are driving home from a long day at the office. You would not stop because you are feeling drowsy would you? No you would stay awake and drive all the way home wouldn't you?
You should stop. Trying to keep your eyes open and finish your drive might just cost you your life. The big difference is that this time your tenacity could quite literally cause the death of you.
And with each 'micro-sleep' you take it gets harder and harder to stay awake at the wheel. And, each micro-sleep presents greater hurdles - Akilla Hurdles ®. It is only a matter of time before you drop off to sleep at the wheel.
If you learn just one thing from this Akilla® Sleep Safety Educational Campaign then this is it, you must stop to survive !
But drivers are not stopping ! Research shows that only one in four drivers stop when feeling drowsy16. Some people refer to this as 'get-home-itis'
Simply stated, the statistics mean that at any one time there are significant numbers of drowsy drivers on the roads. The implication is that you could be totally awake but crash due to drowsy driving by others. Not only do you need to stay awake but you need to stay awake of other drowsy drivers.
Drowsy-Driving Kills !