Driver Performance in the Moments Surrounding a Microsleep.
This study examined if individuals who are at increased risk for drowsy-driving because of obstructive sleep apnea syndrome (OSAS), have impairments in driving performance in the moments during microsleep episodes as opposed to during periods of wakefulness. Twenty-four licensed drivers diagnosed with OSAS based on standard clinical and polysomnographic criteria, participated in an hour-long drive in a high-fidelity driving simulator with synchronous electroencephalographic (EEG) recordings for identification of microsleeps. The drivers showed significant deterioration in vehicle control during the microsleep episodes compared to driving performance in the absence of microsleeps on equivalent segments of roadway. The degree of performance decrement correlated with microsleep duration, particularly on curved roads. Results indicate that driving performance deteriorates during microsleep episodes. Detecting microsleeps in real-time and identifying how these episodes of transition between wakefulness and sleep impair driver performance is relevant to the design and implementation of countermeasures such as drowsy driver detection and alerting systems that use EEG technology.