Australian Researchers Developing a Blood Test for Detecting Driver Fatigue
Driver fatigue is a significant concern both locally in Australia and worldwide with estimations suggesting between 20 and 30% of all crashes in Australia are caused by tired drivers. To address this issue, researchers at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia, have conducted pioneering research into using a blood test to diagnose driver fatigue. This innovative approach could revolutionize the way we identify and prevent accidents caused by sleep deprivation.
The Research Findings:
Monash University’s research team, led by Professor Clare Anderson, has made significant progress in identifying biomarkers in the blood that can indicate sleep deprivation with over 99% accuracy. These biomarkers are strongly correlated with the duration of wakefulness and remain consistent across individuals. The team has identified five specific biomarkers, including lipids and gut-produced substances, which are not influenced by factors like caffeine or anxiety.
The Potential Impact:
Implementing a blood test for driver fatigue could have far-reaching implications for road safety. It could also provide a basis for legislation against drowsy driving, enabling prosecutions and holding both drivers and their employers accountable.
Challenges and Further Research:
Although Monash University’s research has shown promising results, further validation and refinement are necessary. The research team aims to investigate whether the biomarkers can quantify the duration of sleep, (distinguishing between individuals who have slept for five hours versus two hours).
Whilst a potential fatigue detecting blood test could prove useful in diagnosing the cause of an accident and therefore serve as a deterrent for drivers who may otherwise drive tired – it can not replace the real time feedback provided by an in vehicle driver fatigue monitoring system which actively monitors the drivers eyes to provide an alert at the early signs of drowsy driving.