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Is your car rocking you to sleep?

Many parents have found that the best way to get a crying baby to sleep is to strap them into their car seat and go for a drive. If driving can have a soporific effect on babies, it stands to reason it might also affect the adults in the car, including the driver.

Tiredness is a contributing factor in many motor vehicle crashes. It can affect anyone from a long-distance truck driver who has been on the road all night to a young mother on the school run whose baby did not let them sleep. Recent research shows the vehicle’s vibrations may be the reason:

Cars produce low-frequency vibrations

The same vibrations that soothe a crying baby can reduce a driver’s ability to stay awake and focused. It does not happen instantaneously. You won’t drop off to sleep the moment you start driving. It is a gradual effect, and the longer you go without a break, the worse it can be. 

The study found the effects were noticeable after 15 minutes and significant after half an hour while reaching a peak at the hour mark. Hence the tired mom on the five-minute school run may be less affected than the sales representative who has a two-hour drive home at the end of a long day or the trucker who has been on the road all night.

Understanding this can help you decide when you should leave the car at home due to tiredness. Too many people still drive their vehicles when they are at risk of falling asleep. If a tired driver injures you, seek legal help to hold them responsible.

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