ABC science news: Those good vibrations

This week on ABC Melbourne 774 I talked science news with the indomitable Libby Gore. Listen from 1:09:27 at [link expired].

Have you ever experienced being wide awake one minute, then hardly being able to keep your eyes open within minutes of hopping into a car?

If so, you’re not alone with a whopping 1 in 5 Australians reporting that they’ve fallen asleep at the wheel, and 1 in 5 fatal crashes involving driver fatigue.

RMIT researchers have figured out why. They believe the gentle, low-frequency vibrations that naturally occur in cars and trucks are making us sleepy, affecting our concentration and alertness.

The cause of these vibrations range from the surface of the road to tyres, suspension and seat design in cars.

On a positive note, not all frequencies have this effect on our brains. And now that we understand the cause, researchers hope car manufacturers will improve the design of car seats, using good vibrations to fight sleepiness and keep drivers awake at the wheel.