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This is why you shouldn't drive when you're sleep deprived

Driving experiment shows terrifying impact lack of sleep can have on motorists' safety on the road

The terrifying effects of sleep deprivation on driving skills can be seen in this experimental video.

Hitting the road while tired can be akin to being drunk behind the wheel, a new study has shown.

Commissioned by Huddersfield firm Time4Sleep.co.uk, the experiment worked with 27-year-old triplets Robert, Stephen and Patrick Davis, who were tested on their driving skills after a full night's sleep, dirsupted sleep, and no sleep, respectively.

The disrupted sleep pattern was designed to imitate that of a parent with a newborn baby.

Time4Sleep Steven Davis' sleep followed the pattern of a parent with a newborn
Steven Davis' sleep followed the pattern of a parent with a newborn

They took part in a Transport Research Laboratory simulation replicating 90 minutes on the motorway in a real car. They were instruction to stay in the inside lane of the three-lane motorway and drive a constant speed of 60mph.

The triplets were also asked to rate their own sleepiness and flash their headlights when a red bar appeared on the simulator to test their reaction times. A heart rate monitor gave alerts when the triplets heart rate dropped to a level classed as 'fatigued'.

Here are their results:

Time4Sleep Robert behind the wheel
Robert behind the wheel

Robert: Drove after full night's sleep


Fatigue alerts


Lane departures


Seconds outside own lane


Missed reactions

Transport Research Laboratory

Steven Davis behind the wheel
Steven Davis behind the wheel

Steven: Drove after disrupted sleep


Fatigue alerts


Lane departures


Seconds outside own lane


Missed reactions

Transport Research Laboratory

Time4Sleep Patrick falling asleep behind the wheel
Patrick falling asleep behind the wheel

Patrick: Drove after no sleep


Fatigue alerts


Lane departures


Seconds outside own lane


Missed reactions

Transport Research Laboratory

A Time4Sleep survey of 1,000 British drivers found that 83 per cent admitted to having driven while tired, with one in ten admitting to regularly getting behind the wheel while tired.

Shockingly, one in three of those asked said they feel they have put others at risk in the past through driving while tired, with 19 per cent admitting they felt they could cause an accident.

Men were significantly more likely to admit driving while tired at 40 per cent, compared to 28 per cent of women.

Time4Sleep.co.uk direct Jonathan Warren said people should use public transport if they don't feel fit to drive.

He said: "We wanted to conduct an experiment and find out the impact sleep deprivation can have on driving, to raise awareness of this important issue and encourage drivers to think twice before getting behind the wheel after experiencing lack of sleep."

Psychologist Simon Tong, who oversaw the experiment, said: "The key finding here was the triplet with disrupted sleep was affected as this is most common to real life.

Time4Sleep Psychologist Simon Tong, who oversaw the experiment
Psychologist Simon Tong, who oversaw the experiment

"One dangerous aspect of fatigue is how it can come and go quite suddenly. You can get a false impression that you’ve overcome it, only to find that it strikes again a short time later when you perhaps aren’t expecting it.

"The triplet without sleep (Patrick) was driving on a different level, with terribly slow responses, imprecise motor skills and a self-confessed lack of control. He was unable to stick to a lane or speed and his driving performance was akin to being drunk, if not worse."

For more information on how the experiment took place, visit the Time4Sleep information hub.



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