How do sleep and stress affect your driving?
Young Canberra drivers can now find out as part of a joint study between the University of Canberra and the Queensland University of Technology's Centre for Accident Research and Road Safety (CARRS-Q).
Lead researcher Kalina Rossa is seeking 100 drivers aged 18 to 25 to take part in the study, which will track their driving performance, map their travel and monitor their sleep and stress over seven days to identify the impact of fatigue on safe driving.
Ms Rossa said the study would monitor the stress and performance of young drivers with personal heart-rate monitors, accelerometers fitted to their vehicles, and GPS units mapping their travel distance and times.
"Young people, in particular, are very vulnerable to the effects of sleep loss and are overrepresented in sleepiness-related crashes," Ms Rossa said.
"We know that their sleep is a bit all over the place because of work, uni, social commitments. Young people may be going to bed really late, having to wake up really early before work or uni commitments and we know that people who have been awake for more than 17 hours [have impaired] concentration and reaction times are similar to a blood alcohol content of 0.05."
When compared to older drivers, younger drivers were more likely to drive while tired, Ms Rossa said.
"A young person who's getting up for an early morning commitment, staying awake all day then going to work after uni then going to a party and driving home has been awake for more than 20 hours but they would still think it was OK to go and drive home in the car, whereas they wouldn't be OK getting in the car knowing they've drunk alcohol," she said.
"Public health campaigns have shown the dangers of drinking alcohol and driving but people aren't aware of the dangers of driving when sleepy."
Ms Rossa hopes the research will shed light on how emotions can affect young drivers too.
Drivers are also in the spotlight at the Australian National University, with a new study to compare the ability of beginner and experienced drivers to spot obstacles on the road.
Led by honours student Alex Mackerras, the study will also look at whether a driver's ability to spot obstacles improves, or gets worse, when not in control of the vehicle.
Mr Mackerras said they are seeking P-Platers in their first 12 months of driving and experienced drivers with at least 10 years' experience and under the age of 40.
Anyone interested in taking part is invited to contact firstname.lastname@example.org.