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Driving tired as bad as driving drunk, Volvo research suggests

GOTHENBURG, Sweden - A new study by Volvo Trucks has found the effects fatigue has on drivers are startlingly similar to those that are induced by alcohol consumption.


GOTHENBURG, Sweden – A new study by Volvo Trucks has found the effects fatigue has on drivers are startlingly similar to those that are induced by alcohol consumption.

Driver fatigue, much like alcohol, impairs a driver’s coordination ability, motor skills, response times, vision, attentiveness and even cognitive ability and attitude, the study found.

Volvo already knew from previous medical research that the number of traffic fatalities in Europe (as well as North America) could be significantly reduced if fewer drivers were operating vehicles while drowsy.

Holistic approach

The company says it has taken a holistic approach to reducing driver fatigue by introducing systems such as electronic stability systems which can help prevent the truck from rolling over. However, the company says its latest research sheds more light on the effects of driving tired.

The study was conducted in a closed-off area of Volvo’s Hallered, Sweden proving grounds with permission of the Swedish government.

The study monitored drivers who were under the influence of alcohol as well as drowsy drivers.

Two cameras were fitted above the trucks’ instrument panels to monitor driver eye movement and reactions.

Researchers found tired drivers exhibited many of the same traits as those who had been drinking before getting behind the wheel.

“We wanted our suspicions confirmed in a scientific study using real drivers in an authentic driving environment and using real vehicles – all so as to know with precision how a driver reacts both when drowsy and when under the influence of alcohol,” says Peter Kronberg, researcher at Volvo Technology.

‘The similarities were remarkable’

“We’ve been able to confirm the similarities between drowsiness and alcohol when it comes to impaired road safety. The similarities were remarkable – the symptoms were very similar in our research.”

“The test helps increase knowledge about how factors such as tiredness, the effects of alcohol and other negative input can affect driving ability. This is knowledge that we need for our ongoing development of methods to sound the alert in time – before accidents occur,” adds Lars-Goran Lowenadler, safety manager at Volvo Trucks.


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