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Researchers Watch YouTube Videos to Study Drowsy Driving

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female driver with sunglasses relaxing

Instead of going through the trouble of setting up a controlled experiment to perform a study, why not look at the examples already at your fingertips?

Australian researchers from QUT’s Centre for Accident Research & Road Safety turned to the internet to study public perception of drowsy driving. With the millions of videos available on YouTube which are filmed and uploaded by users across the world, the researchers had plenty of cases to observe.

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Because it’s becoming increasingly popular for people to film drivers (or themselves) operating a vehicle while sleepy, video sharing websites like YouTube provided all the insight researchers needed.

“With driver fatigue contributing to between 15-30 per cent 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,” said Ashleigh Filtness, presenting her findings at the 2015 Australasian Road Safety Conference.

Her results found that passengers both criticized and sympathized with drowsy drivers, offering advice on how to stay awake while driving. Apparently this response “highlights the perception that people view sleepy driving as a common yet controllable behaviour.”

Another observation made is that drivers who dismissed sleepy driving as trivial were more likely to receive views and comments on YouTube.

“What is concerning is that 15 per cent of these in-vehicle videos were drivers recording themselves while driving…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.”

While these results aren’t necessarily earth-shattering, they do emphasize the importance of driving safely and not using social media to spread examples of hazardous behavior.

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News Source: Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation