The Australian government is funding researchers to create a blood test that can identify sleep deprivation in drivers, which might lead to legislation prohibiting drowsy driving and providing a method for prosecution.
Researchers funded by the Australian government’s Office of Road Safety are working on a blood test to detect sleep deprivation in drivers who cause accidents. Driving with less than five hours of sleep has been found to be as dangerous as driving under the influence of alcohol. The test could lead to legislation against drowsy driving and provide a means for prosecuting fatigued drivers. The study has identified five biomarkers in blood that can accurately detect sleep loss of 24 hours or more. Portable roadside tests are still in development, but researchers believe they could be implemented within five years in safety-critical industries. The goal is to establish a legal threshold for minimum sleep required to drive safely, similar to the blood alcohol cutoff.