Many drivers have found themselves in this situation. Long trip, especially during the night, several hours behind the wheel, with the final destination usually not far away. The street is almost empty, the passengers have already been asleep for hours, the radio seems to play the same songs over and over again. Suddenly the driver's head tilts down. After fractions of a second wakes up and reacts instinctively to stop the car that is already leaving the road or moving in the opposite direction. He has just experienced microsleep or in Greek micro-sleep.
«Micro-sleeping falls under the category of accidents caused by inattentive driving, which is generally the most common and most tragic cause of accidents“, he says Karel Mulachead of SKODA's Traffic Safety Research Team.
The essentially ungoverned moving car may leave the road and collide with any obstacle or pedestrian or cyclist or it may hit the car in front or, even worse, to move to the opposite side of the road. «While there is legislation to ban the use of the phone by the driver, there is nothing about fatigue and in particular micro-sleeping”adds Mulac.
According to psychologists, fatigue often comes from repetitive activities – even someone who has had enough sleep can be tired after a long period of monotonous activity and driving in an environment without visual changes is one of them.
There are various recommendations about combating micro-sleep. Some suggest walking or exercise, a coffee or an energy drink. These solutions usually work for a short time, but fatigue may come back even stronger. According to experts, there is none medical intervention or special diet for micro-sleep, the only solution is rest. “The ideal is to stop, put the seat back and sleep for at least 15 minutes,” advises Mulac.
SKODA's Road Safety Research Department advises on avoiding micro-sleep:
1. Get plenty of rest before driving
2. If you usually go to bed early, don't drive late at night
3. If you're not a morning person, don't drive at dawn
4. Plan your trip well
5. Take regular breaks during travel
6. Stop in a safe place when you feel the first signs of fatigue and rest
7. Have active conversations with your fellow passengers
8. Have a cup of coffee with you, open the window and freshen the air inside the car
9. Don't get complacent by relying on assistance systems – consider them to be there as an aid
10. The best solution is driving after rest
Modern cars have various fatigue detection functions, which usually only warn drivers when the level of fatigue has passed a certain threshold. Even then, some drivers they simply ignore these warningsbringing themselves into temporary, transitory alertness.
However, in some cases there are technological systems that can help a driver experiencing micro-sleep. The lane keeping system will keep it on track by providing relevant alert notification to the driver while equipped models with the Emergency Assist system they can stop if necessary and turn on the hazard lights.
The system usually activates automatically if the driver does not have active control of the vehicle: first emits one warning sign for the driver and then the car does a small misalignment. If the driver is still unresponsive, a car with an automatic transmission can be completely immobilized.
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