Driver Fatigue: An Experimental Investigation
John Richardson Stephen H. Fairclough Simon Fletcher HUSAT, Loughborough University, Leics., UK
John Scholfield Ford Research and Engineering Centre, Essex, UK
The work described here was part of the European PROMETHEUS program launched in 1986 to encourage precompetitive collaborative research within the automotive industry. The objectives of the program were to develop and apply new technologies in order to increase traffic safety and road system capacity and to reduce vehicle emissions. Its aims were therefore consistent with other IVHS programs.
In the program's "safe driving" stream, research effort has been invested in areas such as vision enhancement, collision avoidance, and proper vehicle operation. The Ford Motor Company ( UK) and the HUSAT Research Institute have undertaken research on driver alertness monitoring within this last area.
Although driver fatigue is now being accepted as a major factor in causing road accidents, there is still considerable difficulty in quantifying the problem ( O'Hanlon, 1978). Harris ( 1977), for example, found a clear relation between time spent driving and the likelihood of accident involvement. But other investigators, such as Hamelin ( 1987), have found stronger effects for time of day and sleep pattern disruption. This latter effect is consistent with typical findings regarding feelings of drowsiness and unintentional sleep episodes during the day. These show pronounced peaks between 2 a.m. and 7 a.m. and, to a lesser extent, 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. ( Carsakadon, Littel, & Dement, 1985). Experimental investigations of driver fatigue have proven surprisingly contradictory, despite a large body of literature. There is certainly no simple causal relation between time spent driving, fatigue, and driving impairment.