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New approaches to mitigating professional driver sleepiness and fatigue

Loughborough Design School

Loughborough United Kingdom Biomedical Engineering Health Informatics Nursing & Health Psychology

About the Project

Professional drivers are exposed to a wide range of occupational factors that potentially increase their vulnerability to sleepiness and fatigue, including prolonged driving conditions, 24-hour operations, variable shift patterns, and urban traffic congestion. The nature of the job also limits the degree of control that drivers have over the timing of breaks, their sleeping patterns, diet and opportunity to exercise, which can further exacerbate the risk of fatigue-related problems. Despite these risk factors there is a lack of empirical evidence of how best to manage fitness to drive and ensure an alert workforce. In particular, a holistic approach considering, drivers, employers and enforcement officers has to date been lacking.

Aims of this PhD

The aim of this PhD is to a) identify potential opportunities for everyday enhancement of professional driver alertness; and b) to work with stakeholders to develop appropriate countermeasures for profession driver sleepiness, with a systems perspective to include the driver, employer and enforcement. Considerations are:

- Systematic identification of countermeasures for potential benefit to driver sleepiness. Including strategic, tactical and operational approaches.

- Development/application of psychology theory in behaviour change to determine best practice in countermeasure development.

- Consideration of countermeasure adaptation for different transport modes.

- Focused development, trial and evaluation of either short or long term health behaviour change countermeasures. Trial in an applied employment setting.

- Working with operator and road enforcement officers to develop new practice in regulation of driver sleepiness and fatigue.


The PhD will take a mixed methodological approach. The exact study methods used can be shaped to best suit the student’s interests and expertise. Example approaches include:

- Analysis of police and in-depth crash data to identify causal factors in crashes.

- Questionnaires with professional drivers considering personal fatigue experience.

- Quantitative data collection from EEG, on-board recorders, smart phones, smart watches etc to analyse real world professional driver behaviour (suitable for students with experience of big data, statistics and mathematics backgrounds)

- Qualitative techniques for understanding driver motivation and employment constraints (suitable for students with experience in focus groups and interview analysis)

- Evaluation of coaching/support initiatives for managing driver sleepiness including feedback and training approaches to enhance safe behaviour.

This PhD will develop new approaches to mitigate professional driver sleepiness. Using data gathered in an applied context. The data will be gathered from quantitative controlled experimental trials and qualitative approaches. Students should have an interest in sleepiness, fatigue and/or driver behaviour research. This project would suit a student with strong interpersonal skills and willingness to work with industry partners in the professional driving industry.

Entry requirements:

The minimum academic entry requirement is a 2.1 undergraduate degree or equivalent, plus you must meet our English Language requirements.

The ideal candidate will have experience with human factors, human biology or psychology, with a specific interest in sleepiness and fatigue, to be applied in a transport safety context.

How to apply

All applications should be made online. Under programme name, select 'Design'.

Please quote reference number: SDCA/AJF/2021

English language requirements

Applicants must meet the minimum English language requirements. Further details are available on the International website.

Fee band

April / July 2021 start: UK/EU: £4,407; International: £17,200

October 2021 start: UK/EU: TBC; International: £18,100

Start date:

April 2021, July 2021, October 2021

Full-time/part-time availability:

Full-time (3 years), Part-time (6 years)

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