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Sleep Suit Helps Simulate Drowsy Driving for Ford Driving Skills for Life Program

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Ford Sleep Suit

We all know and understand the dangers of driving drunk and distracted, but do we truly understand the gravity of driving drowsy? According to a study published by the European Commission, fatigue is a contributing factor in 10-25 percent of all crashes, while another study from the Sleep Foundation posits that going 18 hours without sleep renders a driver as dangerous as one who is intoxicated.

Ford uses this information to point to the utility of its Sleep Suit, a newly commissioned addition to its ongoing Ford Driving Skills for Life program. Like previous Drunk Driving Suits and Drugged Driving Suits, the Sleep Suit will demonstrate to participants the dangers of driving without their full faculties about them.

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“Drive when you’re tired and you risk driving like a zombie — becoming a danger to yourself, your passengers, and everyone on the road around you,” said Dr. Gundolf Meyer‑Hentschel, CEO of the Meyer‑Hentschel Institute, which developed the Sleep Suit for Ford. “Young adults very often subject themselves to ‘intentional sleep deprivation’ — forcing themselves to stay awake so that they can juggle the demands of busy social lives, long working hours, and studying for exams.”

The Sleep Suit simulates microsleeps — instances where you can fall asleep for as little as fractions of a second and as long as 10 seconds at a time — through goggles that can be controlled by a smartphone app. This complements the suit proper, which includes weighted headgear, a vest, and wrist and ankle bands that create the sense of heaviness one feels when they are falling asleep.

As far as what you can do if you feel that you are becoming too drowsy to drive, Meyer-Hentschel recommends pulling over somewhere safe, enjoying a caffeinated beverage, taking a 20-minute nap, and only getting back on the road when you feel sufficiently rested.

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