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Are You a Zombie at The Wheel? Ford ‘Sleep Suit’ Shows How Drowsy Drivers Can be as Deadly as Drink Drivers

  • Ford is highlighting the dangers of driving when tired – a major factor in up to 1 in 5 road accidents – with the help of a specially designed “Sleep Suit”
  • Research compares impairment from drowsy driving to that experienced by drink drivers. “Sleep Suit” goggles simulate microsleeps – that can cause people to drive blind
  • Ford will invite young drivers to experience the “Sleep Suit” as part of the company’s free driver training programme Driving Skills for Life

COLOGNE, Germany, Nov. 22, 2018 – See a friend or loved one reach for the car keys after a boozy night out and many people will speak out or persuade them to hand over the keys. But how about when a friend insists on driving when they are simply tired after a long day?

Fatigue is a major factor in up to 1 in 5 road crashes and according to experts, remaining awake for periods in excess of 18 hours can impair abilities to a degree that is comparable to exceeding the drink drive limit in many countries.

Ford has now commissioned the creation of a “Sleep Suit” that enables wearers to experience the debilitating effect that tiredness can have. Transport accidents are the leading cause of death among young people, and the company will integrate training with the suit into Driving Skills for Life (DSFL) its free young driver training programme for 17- to 24-year-olds.

“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, Meyer‑Hentschel Institute, who developed the “Sleep Suit”. “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 suit partly consists of special goggles that simulate extreme exhaustion, including microsleeps – an uncontrollable response to tiredness. Microsleeps can result in those behind the wheel driving blind for 10 seconds or more, sometime with their eyes still open, during which time they may have covered hundreds of metres. There may be no recollection afterwards that this has happened.

Connected to a smartphone app, the goggles can be set to simulate the brain shutting down and the driver effectively seeing nothing ahead of them for half a second, then for increasingly longer periods, up to 10 seconds. Worn together with a specially designed cap, vest, arm and ankle bands – with a combined weight of more than 18 kilogrammes – the overall effect offers an insight into the degree to which tired drivers are impaired. In the US, most drowsy driving crashes are caused by under-25s.

“We were determined to raise awareness of drowsy driving and the ‘Sleep Suit” is the perfect way to demonstrate this,” said Ford DSFL Manager, Jim Graham. “Many people have been thankful that a friend or family member has volunteered to be the designated driver on a night out. But just because they haven’t been drinking doesn’t mean that they are safe to drive if, for example, they are exhausted after staying up all night.”

So, what should you do if think that you may be too tired to drive? According to Dr Gundolf Meyer-Hentschel, the best course of action is as follows:

  • Pull over as soon as it is safe to do so
  • Consume a caffeinated drink and nap for 20 minutes
  • Wake up refreshed and ready to hit the road again. (If not, then it is probably time to find another way home or to your destination.)


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About Ford Motor Company

Ford Motor Company is a global company based in Dearborn, Michigan. The company designs, manufactures, markets and services a full line of Ford cars, trucks, SUVs, electrified vehicles and Lincoln luxury vehicles, provides financial services through Ford Motor Credit Company and is pursuing leadership positions in electrification, autonomous vehicles and mobility solutions. Ford employs approximately 200,000 people worldwide. For more information regarding Ford, its products and Ford Motor Credit Company, please visit


Ford of Europe is responsible for producing, selling and servicing Ford brand vehicles in 50 individual markets and employs approximately 53,000 employees at its wholly owned facilities and approximately 68,000 people when joint ventures and unconsolidated businesses are included. In addition to Ford Motor Credit Company, Ford Europe operations include Ford Customer Service Division and 24 manufacturing facilities (16 wholly owned or consolidated joint venture facilities and eight unconsolidated joint venture facilities). The first Ford cars were shipped to Europe in 1903 – the same year Ford Motor Company was founded. European production started in 1911.


About Ford Driving Skills for Life

Ford of Europe has committed millions of Euros in training through its acclaimed DSFL programme since 2013. Free, hands-on classes cover hazard recognition, vehicle handling, and speed and space management. The programme also highlights the risks posed by social media distractions.

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