View Full Version : Falling Asleep at the Wheel

10th May 2013, 08:34
How one in ten drivers have nodded off at the wheel | Mail Online (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2322295/How-drivers-nodded-wheel.html)

One in 10 motorists admit to nodding off at the wheel,disturbing new research reveals today.
Some 3.4 million motorists - 9 per cent of the total - have fallen asleep while driving in the past 12 months Often this is just a ‘micro-sleep’ that can last for a second or so but long enough to cause a tragedy.

And how many of them were pilots after a series of night flights or off a long haul flight?

Those rumble strips have saved me many times.

10th May 2013, 08:42
Or Loadmasters, having been on board their freighter for four days, commercialed back then driving home? :ugh:

10th May 2013, 09:03
Happened to me years ago, I woke up with the car rumbling across a field, having driven through a barbed wire fence at the side of the road. Very, very scary.

I'd just flown from Seattle to Glasgow, via London, so had been in the air/travelling for around 20 hours or so. At the time my employer was clamping down on costs and was insisting on cattle class travel, even for long haul. That policy changed after my incident, as a large part of the accident cause was deemed to me falling asleep as a result of being kept awake all night on the flight from Seattle to LHR by a screaming kid a couple of rows behind.

10th May 2013, 09:09
Many moons ago I used to share weekend journeys from RAF Leeming down the A1 to 'smoke' for 'the necessary' with a course mate. Coming north-bound one Sunday night as 'pax' I awoke to find us coming back down the embankment onto the A1 with him still asleep........................

10th May 2013, 09:16
Back in my Army days....didn't get much sleep on exercise.

Driving 4 ton truck with 27KvA genny in tow through a beech forest at 0400 in pitch black following a convoy light on the truck ahead and trying to miss the trees.
Came out the woods, saw where I ws going and immediately fell asleep at the wheel.
Went straight off the road, down an embankment and had a giant accident.

No repercussions as everyone was exhausted and still got to our step up position on time.
Made a helluva mess of 2 Arm'd Divs air cell CP though. :hmm:

Lon More
10th May 2013, 09:28
Behind the wheel, behind the radar it made no difference.
Eventually diagnosed with sleep apnea and into early retirement. Got a CPAP mask which I only used for about a week then, no stress, and now sleep like a babe - but only in bed

10th May 2013, 09:28
Also doing an A1 commute from RAF Leeming, My mate would remain at the wheel as I had no driving licence, but take a nap. He could wedge his foot to hold a steady 55mph as he slept, and I would steer one-handed from the passenger seat.
It was quite entertaining switching carriageways at the Catterick roadworks!

Also once saw a driver fall asleep on the A34 dual carriageway just as I was about to overtake. I always look at a driver's head and saw it nod, so paused my overtake. He drifted from middle to outside lane, grazed the barrier, drifted back across to the inside lane and must have woken up as he drifted up the embankment. He only had about 15 degrees of drift on so the embankment steered him back onto the road. Despite it being Sunday afternoon traffic, he didn't hit anybody, sustained no damage apart from the scrape down the driver's side from the barrier, and pootled on as before. I remember he was driving a Jaguar xj6

10th May 2013, 09:35
This is what happened to me when I dropped off. A fair few years back and nowadays I pull over and have a short nap when I feel the same effects.

Taught me a lesson!

http://i25.photobucket.com/albums/c92/allan907/carsmash8_zps4b7818ed.jpg (http://s25.photobucket.com/user/allan907/media/carsmash8_zps4b7818ed.jpg.html)

10th May 2013, 09:38
Behind the wheel, behind the radar it made no difference.

The H2S radar on the V aircraft had a permanently fitted camera above the screen which had a very comfy padded rubber headrest. When the cameras were removed from Victor tankers as screenshots were unnecessary in the role I found that this adversely affected my sleeping arrangements :*

10th May 2013, 10:26
Fatigued driver nearly hits police car - YouTube

10th May 2013, 10:59
Not at the wheel, but I used to work besides another electronics bod who was always (ahem) "looking for transients" on the oscilloscope. He'd fit the soft rubber light shield, settle against it, and drift happily off to sleep. :rolleyes:

10th May 2013, 12:38
I nodded off at the wheel one time in my life and it was the last time.

I was living in Germany at the time and had just gotten off night shift work. I was driving the Autobahn between Giessen and Friedberg, where I lived at the time, at 0-dark-thirty. Not much traffic at that hour and, sure enough, I nodded off. I guess the only thing really which woke me up was the sound of the truck's horn blaring - a double-trailer type thing - as I had wandered in front of him from the left lane to the right. :eek::eek::eek:

10th May 2013, 12:56
I had a colleague who was suffering under new company economy measures - economy class flight from the US after gruelling two week, different hotel every night schedule, and no chauffeur car home but drive company car. He fortunately wasn't injured when the car hit a bridge abutment, but the car was. The rules very rapidly got changed after that....to ones requiring that after a flight exceeding 4 hours, no driving yourself was allowed.

10th May 2013, 13:03
One of my colleagues fell to sleep driving home woke up in Reading hospital having had his spleen removed - had to be recoursed but went on to full career flying as airline pilot but in later years could not operate through malarial zones.

Another had similar but less seriously injured but still woke up in hospital.

I also find the issue nodding off is not just tiredness but the monotony of motorway driving with minimal traffic.

10th May 2013, 13:29
Yep - it happens.

Years ago I was heading north after leaving a corporate event near Cheltenham. Was in the outside lane of the M42 about 1 AM doing 70-80 mph when there was a HUGE bang...

I had driven straight into a coned-off area and dropped about 6" onto the stripped roadbed. A millisecond later there was another HUGE bang as I hit the end of the dug-up area, went through another load of cones and was back in the outside lane.

As I looked in the mirror, there were dozens of cones raining down out of the sky! Thankfully there was no equipment parked in the work area or I would probably not be here now.

I hadn't felt tired or was even aware that I was drowsy. The adrenalin kick certainly lasted the rest of the drive though!

10th May 2013, 14:18
One of the more common, but rarely-mentioned causes of "nodding off" is, food. The old "sleepy chicken" or "sleepy turkey" syndrome is a very real threat to your alertness, after eating some types of food.
Chicken and turkey have long been blamed for after-meal sleepiness, but carbohydrates are more often, the real problem area for inducing sleepiness after a meal.

L-Tryptophans are the chemicals that are major contributors to sleepiness after eating food. However, the bodys chemical-producing process is quite complex. L-Tryptophan (an amino-acid) in foods gets converted into another amino-acid called 5-HTP in the brain, which in turn boosts production of serotonin and melatonin - which are both sleep-inducing chemicals.
Seratonin is a neuro-transmitter, it exists only in blood platelets, the lining of the gut and the brain, and it's mainly involved in facilitation of the transfer of nerve impulses between nerve cells.
Serotonin is thought to improve your mood, and also gives you the "satisfied" feeling after a meal, as well as encouraging the onset of sleep.

High sugar-content foods produce a burst of energy, but they also produce an upsurge in insulin that then reduces the levels of all amino-acids in the blood - except L-Tryptophan.
As all the amino-acids compete for transportation across the blood-brain barrier, the higher levels of L-Tryptophan after the insulin effect means an increased level of serotonin and melatonin in the brain - thus you get sleepy.

However, these chemical processes are still being studied, and it's known that different people are affected differently by different foods. Many people get sleepy after a few beers. Others aren't bothered as much by beer, but get sleepy after a feed of cheese.

It's a very complex process, the amino-acid conversion in the body - but one has to be very aware of what foods have a tendency to make you sleepy, and try to avoid them, if you need to stay alert.
I know I've been caught out sometimes - eating something that seemed quite innocuous - but which brought on an attack of sleepiness that I struggled to fight off.

10th May 2013, 14:37
Over 50 years ago I was offered the magnificent sum of £15 to take three dinghies up to Scarborough with ny 100E van.

I drove up there from Essex, having my first experience of the M1 (or any motorway) whilst towing a trailer for the first time (one boat on the roof).

Miserable buggers didn't even offer so much as a drink of water when I got there after 8hrs continuous driving, so I drove back for another 8hrs. Didn't fall asleep but came very close on that boring motorway.

Couldn't do that now.

10th May 2013, 14:38
Years back, coming back over the M62 after following the RAC rally for a few days I had to nudge my driver awake going into some roadworks (he wasn't, worried me a bit). "Bloody Hell, they should put out some warning signs" he said.
"Like the 3 mile, 2 mile, 1 mile, 800 yard, 600 yard and 400 yard warnings you seem to have missed?" I said.

And then there is the bridge over the A64 York by-pass that carries a perfect reversed 'Ford' imprint from a mates car (they fell asleep on their way home from a rally). (I think it's the A19 junction). Car wasn't much use after though.

10th May 2013, 14:42
onetrack wrote:

but carbohydrates are more often, the real problem area for inducing sleepiness after a meal.

Is that an accurate statement? I believe carbohydrates are energy-inducing which is the reason why many athletes "carbo load" before an event especially in the road cycling world.

10th May 2013, 14:49
The only time I have ever tasted Red-Bull: had had a busy week-end in the UK and then taken night-ferry to Zeebrugge. Found myself hideously tired and incapable on the motorway to Brussels and bought two cans of RB at a service-station (when they opened at 06:00/07:00). Unpleasant taste but seemed to work. Haven't had any more.

10th May 2013, 14:59
Well according to Alexandros Vgontaz of Penn State University College of Medicine you should eat food high in carbohdrates such as potatoes, pasta and dried fruit to boost alertness (a study quoted in yesterday's Times).

What do I know? Thankfully I no longer have to endure long flights or drives - those who claim never to have dropped off in either situation are deluding themselves.

10th May 2013, 15:08

What do I know? those who claim never to have dropped off in either situation are deluding themselves

Probably explains that flap about the giant FAE over Moscow some time back, then :E

10th May 2013, 15:20
In my yoof I fell briefly asleep on a tree-lined Belgian road at crack of dawn, into sun, on my 250cc dreammachine. Luckily there were tramlines in this road and...........................

10th May 2013, 17:28
...nearly drifted off airborne once on a long transit after being up for nearly 2 days. The nav had already been asleep for half an hour. Was worried about drifting into another in the 4 ship battle formation, then noticed that the others had taken about an 80' height split (one up, one down) on the leader. I took the hint and a 150' split. Managed to stay awake by resting one eye at a time. Remembered from somewhere that you should always open the resting eye for a few seconds before closing the other, as otherwise you could nod off the instant both eyes closed..forever.

Had a Bulldog QFI called 'Noddy'. In a previous life, he'd been Merchant Navy. Always volunteered for the first night watch after a run ashore to help his mates out. He used to wedge himself standing up between the control panel and the binnacle, about 6 inches from the windscreen. As he nodded off, his head would tilt forward, he'd bang his nose on the windscreen and wake up again. Actually, maybe it was him who told me about the 'one eye' routine.

10th May 2013, 17:32
I had an Uncle who used to do a lot of driving, mostly after dark. He told me he would place his hands on the steering wheel at the 11 o'clock and 1 o'clock positions. If he started to nod off, his hands would fall off the wheel and wake him.


10th May 2013, 20:02
My father was a Coastal Command navigator in WW2. His Liberator used to fly 20-plus hour missions from Sri Lanka (then Ceylon) to Malaya to drop men and supplies into the jungle, or to Singapore for minelaying. He said that falling asleep was always a problem, and so he had a trick of wedging a lit cigarette between his fingers, in order that if he dropped off it would burn to the end and wake him up. Once when he did this, he woke up and found the plane much lower over the sea than normal. He poked the pilot in the crotch with a pole (apparently the navigator's station was below the pilot), and asked him "What's your altitude?". The pilot and everyone else aboard had fallen asleep too...

He reckoned that this was probably the cause of some aircraft disappearing without trace. Somewhere I have a recording of him telling this story, and another about hitting the sea in a Wellington equipped with a Leigh Light. Keep meaning to transfer this to electronic form and put it up on the web.

10th May 2013, 20:09
So many will be the first to slate people who use a mobile phone whilst driving.

And yet so many will admit to falling asleep at the wheel...

10th May 2013, 21:34
MANY MANY STORIES THERE ARE of pilots dropping off.

One concerns a Catalina load of extra crew plus VIPs flying the often 25 hour leg from Lake Koggalla in Ceylon down to Perth when Qantas operated the service in 1944. The skipper was the late Lew Ambrose, a legendary man in the archives of Qantas and Australian aviation.

Lew was dead to the world on his bunk having left the nav to a couple of relatively new chums to the business. Near to the end of the trip in the early light of day they saw no land on the port bow when they should have. After a short confab one of them elected to wake Captain Ambrose. He got up, glanced at his watch, took a quick squizz at the chart on the nav table, then said to the man at the helm.

"To avoid the prospect of a ditching in the Southern Ocean, may I suggest a ninety degree turn to the port whenever you are ready?"

It was Lew Ambrose who often used the company coach to go from Mascot into the city where he would catch a train home. The story goes that one day seated a row or two behind the driver, he went to discreetly spit out the window. Only the window happened to be closed. So he had to get out his handerchief to wipe off the offending golly. While doing so he said to the man at the wheel -

"Len , I must complement you on the cleanliness of your windows."

In East-West Airlines, based Mascot in the seventies there was a much liked skipper, Captain JR. But he was a tired man. Allegedly on his file in the flight superintendent's office was the notation 'KNOWN DOZER'.

of ANA and later Ansett. In the DC-6 days, Adelaide to Perth he'd do the take-off, call 'gear-up', then 'handing over' , turn the cockpit heat to maximum and fall soundly to sleep for four hours. Typically he's wake up on final at Perth and say "gear down please . . . . my aircraft."

Jason lived at Lismore in northern NSW. On his days off he'd go home to his family. And spend the entire time in the sack. ]]throwing off the ZEDS . Or so legend has it.

G&T ice n slice
11th May 2013, 08:04
I got this from a BOAC pilot so it must be true (after all BOAC pilots were all "good chaps", not like those grammar-school oiks at BEA).

Tiredness can make you do silly things...

Apparently after one of the longer rotations a v. senior captain got back to Heath Row and proceeded to drive home to his modest estate in Hampshire. Unfortunately there were road-works on the A30 and said captain proceeded to drive slap-bang into them.

in reply to the question "surely you saw the roadworks" posed by the interviewing constabulary, his answer was a laconic "of course old boy, so I just pulled back gently on the yoke to fly over them".

G&T ice n slice
11th May 2013, 08:14
to his modest estate in Hampshire

Sorry, there's a mis-print there.

It should, of course, be
"to his modest estate (comma) Hampshire"

11th May 2013, 11:13
In my very early driving days I went to sleep behind the wheel, fortunately while sitting at the traffic lights in neutral.I was woken by the driver behind me sounding his horn.
Since then, nothing will make me drive when I'm tired. On one occasion, in an emergency, my offsider and I took half-hour turns driving & sleeping. At other times, I've happily pulled up in a Golden Arches carpark or the side of the road for a power nap.

11th May 2013, 12:28
Is that an accurate statement? I believe carbohydrates are energy-inducing which is the reason why many athletes "carbo load" before an event especially in the road cycling world.

rgbrock1 - Yes, it is. The carbohydrate energy boost is only temporary. As the carbohydrate boost wears off, the insulin levels rise, then the L-Tryptophan becomes the dominant amino-acid - which causes the surge in serotonin.

The following article is well written, basically accurate, and easy to understand - and the summary, titled "In the End", condenses the serotonin issues.

Understanding Our Bodies: Serotonin, The Connection Between Food and Mood*|*Nutrition Wonderland (http://nutritionwonderland.com/2009/06/understanding-bodies-serotonin-connection-between-food-and-mood/)

11th May 2013, 12:33
IN my teens I sometimes had a drive of 100km plus in the small hours of the morning.after a night chasing the sheilas. More than once I arrived home not remembering anything of having driven through the local village some 15 km earlier. (I wasn't on the suds either). I must have really been on 'autopilot'. Several of my close friends could relate to similar scary realizations in like circumstances.

More recently I found myself in real trouble a couple of times after arriving back in YPAD with the same 100 km drive after a very much stretched out trip from LHR via a long wait in SIN. I have never felt so dangerously dog tired in my life. I was lucky not to come to grief.

I won't do that again :=

11th May 2013, 12:41
I know that at times one goes into a sort of 'autopilot' mode and there is no recall of preceding events. In my foolish youth I did a long drive non-stop (apart from refuelling) from Salisbury to Cape Town (about 2500 km). I woke up, in my bed in Cape Town, the next day but did not remember anything about the drive apart from the first few hours out of Salisbury, crossing the Messina/Beit Bridge border, and then nothing!

Perhaps the scariest part of this was that it was in a Fiat 128 Rally which had a 'speed control' which was just a knob that you pulled out and it locked the throttle! How I didn't fall asleep is beyond me.

A A Gruntpuddock
11th May 2013, 12:57
Driving down to Engerlund late one evening,wife told to keep talking to me. Not sure if it was her snores or the massive thunderstorm which kept me from actually nodding off.

Next time had the bright idea to drive from the Midlands to Torquay overnight to avoid the horrendous traffic jams. Wife nodded off but I had tablets which were supposed to keep one awake.

Found myself in the exact scenario being shown in the safety films at that time - drifting out of lane and coming up behind an HGV in stop-motion mode!

Of at the next intersection for a quick nap & some coffee and never tried that again.:=

11th May 2013, 14:30
I just cannot sleep in cars, not even manage a nap, even when parked. I don't know why, I just can't, even when tired and/or exhausted and/or had a drink or two, that sleep fairy just won't visit when sitting in that thing.

As an example, I recall back in the day when I was living in Sydney when we used to party 6 days a week, it was day 7 and I drove a group of us to Katoomba to chilax, as I was driving us back in the evening on those twisting mountain roads, one by one my passengers started nodding off until I had complete silence in my vehicle. It was quite a funny sight watching them all slosh around with every turn. I too was dead tired but had no feeling of wanting to close my eyes and join them, instead I just wanted the boring drive home to be over and done with quickly.

I've been in this situation many times and have always felt the same way every time. Where does it come from?

I think it comes from years of driving in peak hour traffic and doing the twice daily grind of following the tail lights in front of me, you learn to switch off and put your brain in automatic mode, not many brain cells are required to drive a car so it is actually quite easy to do. In fact, I tried to explain this automatic mode once and the best I could do with my non-medical ability was that I handed over control of the vehicle to the subconscious part of the brain and put the conscious part on cautious guard duty - spooky eh, and as a side affect it gives you that Mr Bean facial expression. Eventually you get real good at driving in this one active brain cell mode (minimum requirements) that you tend to use it when driving becomes a real chore, like driving under predictable and repetitive conditions. I believe this frees up the brain from becoming overloaded and wanting to induce rest or sleep.

Well that's my theory anyway.

12th May 2013, 08:09
I got this from a BOAC pilot so it must be true (after all BOAC pilots were all "good chaps", not like those grammar-school oiks at BEA).

When my mates and I joined BOAC we were initially trained as Flight Navigators for awhile, and flew with some of the so-called North Atlantic Barons ( WW II bomber pilots ) of the era, some of whom were known to actually bring pyjamas for their stint in the crew bunk on the long Atlantic night crossings

One of my mates explained to a navigator instructor / examiner that he entered into the Nav.Log against the GMT column e.g.21.58 Chocks away, 22.10 take-off, 22.12 gear up, 22.15 Captain retires to bunk - and subsequently - 09.18 Captain returns from bunk, 09.22 gear down, 09.27 land at New York 09.38 Chocks on

The Nav, Instr. asked why he was recording such minute detail in the navigation log ? Well, said my mate, if some bugger dies in there we need to know who it is.


12th May 2013, 08:10
I just cannot sleep in cars

I just cannot sleep on aircraft as a passenger. Even on Emirates in their first class cabins tucked up in bed. If you put me in the front left (or right) hand seat I can drop off easily but they will not let me sit there anymore :{

...you learn to switch off and put your brain in automatic mode...

The furthest I drive now is from our house in Bots into Maun which is 40km. An almost straight road and a 120 km/hr limit. Apart from dodging the cattle, goats and the occasional homo sapien there is nothing else to do. I frequently forget how we are progressing without checking the milometer (tripometer?).

12th May 2013, 09:14
Late one Sunday evening, driving from Southampton back to RNAS Culdrose in 1964 after spending the weekend with a new girlfriend - later the first Mrs C16. Got to St Blazey near St Austell with drifting fog swirling just above the car roof. Fell asleep at about 0100 and wrote off my first car, an A35, on a bend which had a stone wall. Passer by came to help - asked him to help me push the car back on the road so I could continue but he pointed out that without any front wheels this was going to be difficult.

Went to the Eden Project a couple of weeks ago and for the first time in about 30 years passed the same bend in the road - now there's a hedge and what I left of the wall is long gone.

12th May 2013, 09:46
From www. drivers.com

Falling asleep at the wheel

By: Jack Nerad for Driving Today
Date: Tuesday, 18. July 2006

Are you getting enough sleep? Apparently a lot of people aren't, and the result is dangerous. The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that approximately 100,000 police-reported crashes annually involve drowsiness and/or fatigue as a principal causal factor. Those crashes result in an estimated 1,500 fatalities and 71,000 injuries each year, and an annual monetary loss of approximately $12.5 billion.
It is amazing the carnage isn't worse, considering a recent survey by Farmers Insurance. More than 10 percent of drivers admit to having fallen asleep at the wheel, while more than 20 percent say they have momentarily dozed while driving, according to the study of 1,024 drivers.
Referred to as "the silent killer" because it is so often overlooked as the cause of an accident, drowsy driving's full effect is not yet known because reporting is imprecise, police are not trained to detect sleep-related crashes and there is no Breathalyzer-like test to determine whether someone was driving while dangerously drowsy.
"Driving while drowsy or fatigued is something that most drivers have experienced or will experience at some point," said Greg Ciezadlo, vice president, Farmers Insurance, yawning. "We need to raise the awareness of this problem and educate drivers on how to prevent it from happening."
According to the Farmers survey, almost three times as many men (15.9 percent) as women (5.8 percent) said they had fallen asleep while driving. Those ages 55 to 64 had the highest percentage of any age group surveyed (13.7 percent).
Nearly twice as many (20.6 percent) of those surveyed said they had momentarily dozed while driving, including 28.6 percent of the male respondents. In addition, while 53.4 percent of all surveyed said they have felt drowsy while driving, 41.2 percent claimed they kept driving. (Hey, "good" idea.)
Tactics to fight drowsiness

Now a new survey shows some of the tactics drivers resort to in an effort to fight drowsiness on the road. In descending order, the most popular tactics those surveyed said they have used when they have become sleepy while they were driving were:

Stop driving or switching drivers (59.5 percent)

Open the windows or turn on the air conditioning (59.0 percent)

Listen to the radio or CDs (57.7 percent)

Stop to eat or drink (46.3 percent)

Drink caffeine (42.3 percent)

Other methods the respondents claimed to have used to stay awake at the wheel include talking or singing to themselves (31.7 percent), splashing water in their faces (18.4 percent) and slapping, hitting, or pinching themselves (a self-abusive 16.1 percent).
The American Institute of Chartered Personal Casualty Underwriters (which is one heckuva name for a band) insists "stay awake" behaviors such as exercising, turning on the radio, and opening the windows are misconceptions and have not been proven to prevent sleep attacks. Other unproven methods to combat drowsiness are hopping on one foot, swapping pants with another occupant of the car, and trying to remember the name of good Rob Schneider movies.
Experts who have looked at the problem say the only safe way to combat drowsy driving is to pull over to a safe parking spot and take a 20-minute nap. Then drive to the closest safe resting spot--such as a motel, friend's house, or the meadow where Bambi frolicked with Thumper--and sleep.
"With 'drowsy driving' on the increase," Ciezadlo said, "it is increasingly important drivers do all they can to prevent this problem, including getting sufficient sleep and avoiding alcohol."
You are getting sleepy

To deal with this deadly problem, Ford Motor Company has announced findings from a comprehensive five-month study, resulting in new technology designed to keep drowsy drivers awake.
http://www.drivers.com/img/articles/668_driver_pensive.jpg The study is the most complete controlled laboratory research ever conducted on the difficult problem of drowsiness behind the wheel. Subjects were required to stay up all night and were not allowed to drink caffeine after 6 pm the night before the study took place. The sleep-deprived drivers were then sent on a three-hour drive--not behind the wheel of a car--but behind the wheel of Ford's state-of-the-art, extremely realistic VIRTTEX driver simulator--a smart move since the simulator can't roll over.
The researchers found that so many drivers veered off the virtual track during the test that there would have been numerous serious accidents had they actually been on the road. A drowsy driver moving at 70 miles-per-hour will travel nearly the length of a football field if he or she falls asleep for even two and a half seconds, and most people sleep a lot longer than that every night.
As the drowsy subjects drove the simulator, researchers experimented with several methods of keeping them alert, such as the use of various lights and sounds. Ford expects to use what it learned from the study in new technology to be introduced into its cars, beginning with its Volvo brand probably because Volvo drivers expect such safeguards given the marque's long involvement in safety issues.
According to the National Sleep Foundation's 2002 "Sleep in America" poll, about one-half of adult drivers (about 100 million people) say they've driven a vehicle in the past year while feeling drowsy. Almost two in 10 people (about 32 million) have actually fallen asleep at the wheel. One percent (approximately two million drivers) had an accident because they dozed off or were too tired to drive. One half of one percent was too tired to even finish the survey.

Some long haul truckies wear spectacle frames upon the arms of which are attached a sonic device that emits a shrill whistle when the head of the driver drops below a preset angle.

12th May 2013, 10:26
Ouchn Fantome - my eyes and ears hurt after that shouting :p Thanks for the info, though.

12th May 2013, 14:57
How many of them are pilots who, one minute, are soapboxing about the risk of fatigue from duty-time regulations, and then, the next minute, voluntarily risking other motorists' lives by jumping into a car while tired?

Agree Jazz but how do they get home when, quite often, there is little or no public transport?

12th May 2013, 15:27
Jazz, I also agree with you but you are either not aircrew or you are short haul day flights only. I spent 20 years living in airport hotels. When I got back to the UK I wanted to go home not another night in a hotel. Cost aside, with triple night flights I would hardly ever get to see 'her in doors'. I didn't mind too much with Mrs Exascot I :eek: but Mrs Exascot II was a different matter :ok:

Loose rivets
12th May 2013, 19:58
Grip a 20 quid note in yer fingertips and hold it out the window.

I used to fly with a lovely bloke on the 1-11s. He used to pick me as his F/O on the evenings/nights he wanted to drive back home ooop north.

At about 10,000 feet I'd help settle him in and when he was snoozing, I'd unplug his headset. A shooshing finger across the lips would silence the few girls not in the know. I remember so clearly him saying, "Don't you land it. You won't, will you?"

I'd always wake him a few minutes before top of decent, and have a coffee sent up. He was very appreciative, but it did no good. One night, perhaps one of those I was not there, he had a terrible accident, and fairly soon hung up his hat.

Uncle Fred
12th May 2013, 20:05
The odd thing is that with all the drug and alcohol testing that the matter of "sleepiness" and fatigue are left up for the driver or pilot to determine.

Unfortunately I can well understand the cynicism that creeps into the discussions about fatigue and flying. The airlines and governmental agencies have created this dazzling artifice of "just call in fatigued" if necessary. Yet as with so many other types of impairment, the subject himself is often the last person to realize that there is a problem. In other words, the absolute last link in the aviation chain is left totally (or nearly totally) alone to self-monitor.

Additionally, at some carriers, calling in fatigued has very real and deleterious consequences. It is monitored and noted.

The reductio ad absurdum of this of course was the Colgan accident in Buffalo. For those who watched the hearings one well remembers the breathlessness of disbelief that anyone would ever be that tired whilst in operation. The absolute incredulity written on the faces of the reps from the air transportation associations was theater of the highest rank. They just never could imagine not to mention countenance that there would be such a thing going on.

One is not blamed for drawing the conclusion that there is no test for tiredness or sleepiness because most operators--airline, bus, trucking, fully know what it going on and depend on the their schedules being filled by the weary and bleary.

Anyway, we test the blazes out of crewmembers in every other aspect of our fit for duty status but oddly the tiredness and fatigue is nothing more than a discussion in semi-annual training or educational flyers.

It simply does not pass the reasonableness test. The person who is likely impaired is left to be the one to make the judgement...

13th May 2013, 01:14
Well that's my theory anyway.

You're actually spot on cattletruck. Effectively, it's hypnotism and is exactly what happens during hypnotherapy. The sub-conscious mind deals with all the routine stuff while the conscious mind allows itself to wander off to some safe place but is there all the while to deal with matters that need to be dealt with. The visual, audio and other sensory inputs are still there and, if needed, your brain can snap back to the 'here and now' instantly if required.

A lot of people think that during hypnotism the hypnotist takes 'control' of your mind and you are completely out of it. Not so. The experience that you describe whilst driving - and most of us have experienced it - is the same experience that you get while being hypnotised.

13th May 2013, 10:11
Have any of you heard about something called a fatigue index Fatigue / Risk index for shiftworkers ? health and safety in the workplace (http://www.hse.gov.uk/research/rrhtm/rr446.htm). It is apparently based on a study of train drivers and is used to judge how tiring a particular shift pattern is. A result of anything between 40 and 50 is judged to be acceptable. Have any of your airlines used it in relation to your shifts?

I have heard of it because my police force used it when changing our shift patterns. Their stated aim when changing the shifts was to preserve work/life balance as well as matching supply to demand however I find it farcical that the demands of driving a train can be equated to what we do on response. I am not demeaning what train drivers do but I can't see how working in a warm, comfortable environment with scheduled breaks, can be used as a model for shifts which change from day to day (we have 15 different start and finish times), no guaranteed breaks, the demands of an instant switch in pace between routine and emergency grade 1 calls, being out in all weather conditions, and having to start demanding investigations, whilst doing this in public.

Since the shift pattern has changed a lot more of my colleagues have complained about tiredness and falling asleep on the way home from work. We have also had 3 cases of heart problems, whilst sickness levels on some shifts has gone through the roof.

Airey Belvoir
13th May 2013, 15:29
skydiver - the next time that you are sitting in your comfy cop car munching the obligatory doughnut that the local vendor has provided "free of charge, guv" try putting your hand between your legs. Somewhere around the groin region you may well find two almost spherical objects nestling there. These are known as balls. If you can't find any then have a go at growing some. Or change your job - nobody's keeping you there.

13th May 2013, 18:35
Very funny AB . . .. . . but contributes little to the debate.

". . . . . a policeman's lot is not an 'appy one. . . .. .'APPY ONE!

there are constabulary duties to be done .. . TO BE DONE!"

A sleep at the wheel. Asleep at the wheel. Then we came to Little Snoring.

A more than just useful reminder here so far is that one posted about being aware that that car coming the other way, may at any moment be pilotless.. And you need to be ready to take avoiding action Instantly.

Has any car been fitted with a safety device that has been shown to reduce the risk?

Nodding off, the audio goes off. PULL OVER . . PULL OVER .. . . PULL OVER

13th May 2013, 18:54
Sad to hear that pilots are still getting penalised for making it clear that they're too fatigued to fly safely. I had a very capable officer who worked for me once (he was a pilot, on a non-flying posting). At confidential report time I was a bit perplexed as to why he was still at the rank he was after many years service, when he was clearly capable of far better things. I wrote him up fairly in his report, with a recommendation that he be considered for promotion. Soon after I was called to see the Commodore and told to amend my comments. The said Commodore revealed that the chap had once refused to take the ship's flight up during an exercise, as he'd not had any sleep for 36 hours and so declared himself unfit to fly. As a consequence he was black marked by a vindictive captain and doomed to spend the rest of his days knowing he'd never get promotion.

13th May 2013, 20:55
Not when I'm pulling my trailer up or down a mountain road, or am on the flat in a windstorm! The blood pressure spikes, and I'm hangin' on for dear life! :eek:

An RV crash to remember - YouTube

13th May 2013, 21:48
Forget sleeping - how about dying ?

Local businessman recently died at the wheel returning to his office, fortunately the car swing off the road on to a grass verge, either fortuitously or whether this was his last conscious act will never be known.

Reason I mention this is because I recently went to renew my pilot licence, no problems, Medical, ECG, the lot, regular Class 1 certificate renewed on the spot, but purely because of my age I was asked to do an exercise ECG and this showed up an irregularity that resulted in my now being the proud possessor of a couple of arterial stents.

Point is - never had a problem, no pain, no shortage of breath and ONLY because I wanted my flying licence renewed did I even go near a doctor.

How many of those drivers hurtling towards you at a closing speed approaching 150 mph have ever even been near a doctor ?