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New research from Nottingham Trent University (NTU) will explore how to reduce collisions caused by driver sleepiness, through monitoring the commutes of shift workers.

The university was awarded funding from the Road Safety Trust to carry out the three-year project, SleepiEST. Working with the National Police Wellbeing Service, the research will focus on police officers and police employees who work in shifts.

The results from the study will apply to many other types of shift workers, including those who drive to and from work outside normal working hours. The findings will be used to create an online fatigue management system available to the public.

Dr Pilkington-Cheney, psychologist and sleep expert at NTU, said: “Our research aims to explore the risk of sleepiness when driving, both during shifts, but also before and after shifts, as commuting can often be overlooked in terms of risk.”

During the study, a survey will be conducted of police officers and employees across the nation, gathering information on sleep, shift patterns, fatigue, and their driving habits. Next, the police staff will complete a diary study over two weeks, and an online vigilance assessment. This will then be combined with on-board telematics data to reveal an overall estimated ‘sleepiness risk’.

Professor Groeger, co-leader of the project alongside Dr Pilkington-Cheney, said: “Our approach is going to be a little different, because we will gather the data, develop and test the tool, and assess whether the results are meaningful and useful, all within the same complex work setting.

“The national spread and diversity of the police workforce, officers and other employees will enable us to incorporate the effects of a broad range of individual differences into the underlying model.”

Ruth Purdie OBE, interim chief executive of the Road Safety Trust, said: “Driver fatigue causes hundreds of collisions a year. It is a really serious issue. This project can make a significant difference for shift workers, who by the very nature of their work, are at additional risk of driving when fatigued.”

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