Sleepiness or drowsy driving is a serious problem and one of the leading causes of road crashes each year. It can happen to anyone, no matter how experienced a driver they might be. The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that drowsy driving was responsible for over 72,000 crashes, and 800 deaths per annum1

Major causes of drowsy driving:

  • Lack of sleep or cumulative sleep deficit
  • Other considerations such as medication, alcohol, etc
  • Time of day based on natural circadian rhythm
  • Low cognitive load
    • Low levels of mental activity, such as when driving on a highway, actually exacerbate the onset of drowsiness
    • This represents an emerging issue for autonomous driving systems. In particular for the system to know the state of the driver prior to handing control back for level 2 or 3 autonomous systems.
References: 1. https://www.nhtsa.gov/risky-driving/drowsy-driving

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