Ford Creates Zombie Drivers With ‘Sleep Suit’

Tue 11th Dec 2018

Ford Motor Company is highlighting the dangers of driving when tired by devising a suit which simulates extreme exhaustion.

The so-called ‘sleep suit’ includes specially adapted goggles which can simulate the brain shutting down and seeing nothing ahead of you for half a second then for increasingly long intervals, a process known as microsleeps. These microsleeps are an uncontrollable response to tiredness and with fatigue thought to be a major factor in one in five road crashes it is hoped the ‘sleep suits’ can demonstrate the very real dangers of driving while tired.

“Drive when you’re tired and you risk driving like a zombie – becoming a danger to yourself, your passengers and everyone on the road around you,” said Dr Gundolf Meyer-Hentschel, CEO, Meyer-Hentschel Institute, who developed the “Sleep Suit”. “Young adults very often subject themselves to ‘intentional sleep deprivation’ – forcing themselves to stay awake so that they can juggle the demands of busy social lives, long working hours and studying for exams.”

With transport accidents the leading cause of deaths for young people, Ford will use the ‘sleep suits’ in free ‘Driving Skills for Life training programmes aimed at 17-to-24-year olds.

“We were determined to raise awareness of drowsy driving and the ‘Sleep Suit” is the perfect way to demonstrate this,” said Ford DSFL Manager, Jim Graham. “Many people have been thankful that a friend or family member has volunteered to be the designated driver on a night out. But just because they haven’t been drinking doesn’t mean that they are safe to drive if, for example, they are exhausted after staying up all night.”

Whilst it is never advisable to drive whilst tired, Dr Meyer-Hentschel offers three vital pieces of advice to take if you feel drowsy at the wheel. Firstly pull over as soon as it is safe to do so, then consume a caffeinated drink and nap for 20 minutes, finally wake up refreshed and ready to hit the road again, if still tired then it may be time to think about another way of reaching your destination.