Stop and revive? : the effectiveness of nap and active rest breaks for reducing driver sleepiness

Watling, Christopher Noel (2012) Stop and revive? : the effectiveness of nap and active rest breaks for reducing driver sleepiness. Masters by Research thesis, Queensland University of Technology.


The incidence of sleep-related crashes has been estimated to account for approximately 20% of all fatal and severe crashes. The use of sleepiness countermeasures by drivers is an important component to reduce the incidence rates of sleep-related crashes. Taking a brief nap and stopping for a rest break are two highly publicised countermeasures for driver sleepiness and are also believed by drivers to be the most effective countermeasures. Despite this belief, there is scarce evidence to support the utility of these countermeasures for reducing driver sleepiness levels. Therefore, determining the effectiveness of these countermeasures is an important road safety concern. The current study utilised a young adult sample (N = 20) to investigate the effectiveness of a nap and an active rest break. The countermeasures effects were evaluated by physiological, behavioural (hazard perception skill), and subjective measures previously found sensitive to sleepiness. Participants initially completed two hours of a simulated driving task followed by a 15 minute nap opportunity or a 15 minute active rest break that included 10 minutes of brisk walking. After the break, participants completed one final hour of the simulated driving task. A within-subjects design was used so that each participant completed both the nap and the active rest break conditions on separate occasions. The analyses revealed that only the nap break provided any meaningful reduction in physiological sleepiness, reduced subjective sleepiness levels, and maintained hazard perception performance. In contrast, the active rest break had no effect for reducing physiological sleepiness and resulted in a decrement in hazard perception performance (i.e., an increase of reaction time latencies), with a transient reduction in subjective sleepiness levels. A number of theoretical, empirical and practical issues were identified by the current study.

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3 citations in Web of Science®
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ID Code: 50641
Item Type: QUT Thesis (Masters by Research)
Supervisor: Smith, Simon
Keywords: sleepiness, sleep deprivation, crashes, driving, nap break, active rest break, countermeasure, young adult, physiological, hazard perception, subjective sleepiness
Divisions: Current > Research Centres > Centre for Accident Research & Road Safety - Qld (CARRS-Q)
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Health
Current > Schools > School of Psychology & Counselling
Institution: Queensland University of Technology
Deposited On: 28 May 2012 06:33
Last Modified: 28 May 2012 06:33

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