Videos show sleep drivers dicing with death

"SLOW down please because  I don't want to be involved in an accident."

A man's voice urges the person driving the car in front of him in to take the pedal off the metal.

"No. No. No. Wake up! No," the unseen speaker yells helplessly as the white 4WD in front of him erratically moves from left to right and into the oncoming lane, narrowly avoiding a school bus.

"Please get home safe whoever you are," the voice pleads.

This conversation and the footage of the erratic driving are all recorded by the dashcam in the car behind the swerving vehicle.

Then moments later the white 4WD crosses into the wrong lane and slams into a dark vehicle, sending it crashing into the car with the dashcam.

More than 267,000 people have watched this YouTube video of sleepy driver chaos since it was uploaded a year ago.

One of those viewers is researcher Ashleigh Filtness.

The QUT Centre for Accident Research & Road Safety Queensland academic used this 93-second video and 441 other home-made videos as the basis for a study she presented at the Australasian Road Safety Conference on the Gold Coast this week.

She hopes her research will change the way drivers approach getting behind the wheel when they are fatigued.

"With driver fatigue contributing to 15-30% of crashes, it is vital that we better understand how people perceive sleepy driving to tackle this risky behaviour with road safety campaigns that work," Dr Filtness said.

"In-vehicle footage relating to driver fatigue is present on YouTube and is actively engaged with by viewers," she said.

"My study found a mix of both criticism and sympathy for fatigued drivers and a willingness to share advice on staying awake, which highlights the perception that people view sleepy driving as a common yet controllable behaviour."

Of the 442 films examined, most showed drowsy drivers as dangerous and 107 were filmed from within vehicles.


And 15% of the films were shot by drivers, prompting Dr Filtness to warn drivers against doing this.

"Video blogging or vlogging distracts the driver in the same way as texting and mobile phone use, and adds to the danger already being experienced by fatigued driving," she said.

Dashcam footage was extremely popular with the highest number of views on YouTube, where all the films were uploaded.

Dr Filtness's examination also showed films that trivialised sleepy driving were more popular than the others and they had more viewer comments.

Dr Filtness said the study could lead to drivers being more responsible.

"Just in the way that YouTube offers a platform to share dangerous videos and support for sleepy driving, it is also offering a way of sharing accurate messages on drowsy driving and providing advice that driving tired can be avoided with proper planning and pulling over to rest," she said. - APN NEWSDESK


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