Car vibrations may be making you sleepier

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New research has found that feeling drowsy behind the wheel may not always be due to tiredness or lack of sleep- turns out it's your car.

The Transport Accident Commission of Victoria estimates that about 20% of fatal car crashes in Australia are caused by driver fatigue.

A growing body of evidence suggests that gentle vibrations made by car seats during a drive can lull the brain and body and contribute to feelings of sleepiness.

To test the theory, a study from Melbourne's RMIT University hooked volunteers to a virtual driving simulator and tested them once with low frequency 4 to 7 hertz vibrations, and once without.

Volunteers showed signs of drowsiness within 15 minutes of the vibrations, as indicated by their heart variability. It became significant at 30 minutes, with participants becoming sleepier until the end of the 60-minute test.

Researchers believe one explanation could be that the brain becomes synchronized with the vibrations and enters the early stages of sleep.

It's also been suggested that some frequencies may keep people awake instead of lulling them to sleep. But to harness these "good vibrations", more work is needed to examine a wider range of frequencies.

RUNDOWN SHOWS:
1. Depiction of driver fatigue
2. Depiction of car vibrations causing drowsiness
3. Depiction of driving simulation with and without vibrations
4. Depiction of simulation test results

VOICEOVER (in English):

"The Transport Accident Commission of Victoria estimates that about 20% of fatal car crashes in Australia are caused by driver fatigue."

"A growing body of evidence suggests that gentle vibrations made by car seats during a drive can lull the brain and body and contribute to feelings of sleepiness."

"To test the theory, an RMIT University study hooked volunteers to a virtual driving simulator and tested them once with low frequency 4 to 7 hertz vibrations, and once without."

"Volunteers showed signs of drowsiness within 15 minutes of the vibrations, as indicated by their heart variability. It became significant at 30 minutes, with participants becoming sleepier until the end of the 60-minute test."

SOURCES:
RMIT University, Ergonomics, Victoria Transport Accident Commission
https://www.rmit.edu.au/news/all-news/2018/jul/vibrations-cars-drivers-sleepy
https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/00140139.2018.1482373
http://www.tac.vic.gov.au/road-safety/statistics/summaries/fatigue-statistics