With driver fatigue contributing 15-30 per cent of crashes, Australian researchers have used YouTube videos of drowsy drivers to study the public perception of sleepy driving.
Ashleigh Filtness, from Queensland University of Technology’s (QUT) Centre for Accident Research & Road Safety – Queensland (CARRS-Q) said an increasing popularity of YouTube means drivers were being filmed and filming themselves when tired behind the wheel and posted it to online video sharing websites.
“In-vehicle footage of driver fatigue is available on YouTube and is widely viewed by people. My study found a mix of both criticism and sympathy for fatigued drivers and a willingness to share advice on staying awake, which highlights the perception that people see sleepy driving as a common yet controllable behaviour,” she added.
The study looked at four hundred and forty-two uploaded YouTube videos related to fatigue between 2009 and 2014, and found that, in most cases, driver fatigue was portrayed as dangerous. One hundred and seven of these videos were in-vehicle filming.
Filtness, however, found that the videos that trivialised the issue of sleepy driving were more popular and had received more views and comments.
“Of the in-vehicle filming, dashcam footage was the most prevalent type of video and had maximum potential to create an impact with the highest views per video per day,” Filtness said.
What concerns most 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,” she said.
Filtness said the study identified there was a mixed perception of driver fatigue, with the public, keen to engage online in a positive and negative way.
“Just the way YouTube offers a platform to share dangerous videos and support for sleepy driving, it is also offering a way of sharing accurate messages on drowsy driving and providing advice that driving tired can be avoided with proper planning and pulling over to rest,” she said.