Research Title: Task- and sleep-related contributors to driver fatigue

Fatigue is a recognised hazard for drivers and people operating any form of transport, playing a role in up to 30% of crashes. While there is general agreement about its effects, the causes of fatigue remain a contentious issue. Two broad classes of fatigue causes have been identified: Endogenous causes are primarily sleep-related, while exogenous causes refer to the characteristics of an activity or task. To date it has been difficult to distinguish the effects of each cause because most studies of fatigued performance incorporate both factors. 
The main aims of this research include:

  • Explore the separate and joint effects of sleep restriction and low task engagement on driver performance
  • Identify whether these factors differentially affect a driver’s subjective experience of fatigue and their awareness of their current capacity to drive safely
  • Investigate the physiological correlates of performance decrements from each source
  • The findings will contribute to road safety and operator safety more broadly by providing a fuller understanding of the mechanisms of operator fatigue, and by identifying possible avenues for fatigue minimisation.