So whats the right line on staying alert while driving?
By MARY MANN
BALLINA inventor John MacGregor claims to have found the key to stopping deaths on our roads linked to 'micro sleeps'.
The 88-year-old, who is an award-winning inventor, says putting random breaks in the line marking on highways will stop drivers becoming 'hypnotised' by the line patterns, which often leads to them falling into a sleep-like state and crashing.
Mr MacGregor has written to the State Government, calling for what he has tagged the 'MacGregor Method' to be introduced around the country.
The former engineer, who has studied science and high energy physics, said he had done a lot of research into 'highway hypnosis'.
But the RTA has rejected the idea, saying it has no evidence that lane and centre -line configurations induce a hypnotic effect on drivers.
"The aim is to reduce or eliminate the type of hypnotic effect of the current lines used, sometimes called white line fever, micro-sleeps or highway hypnosis," he said.
"It could be a change of colour in the lines, random breaks or a yogi bear whatever it is, the lines need to be broken up to stop the mind going into an automatic state."
Dr Keith Wong, a sleep and respiratory physician and researcher for the Woolcock Institute of Medical Research, said anything that aids driver concentration was worthwhile, but he believed drowsiness was caused by several factors, not just a monotonous drive.
"The monotony of the drive can accelerate that tendency to be drowsy, but I would question just how much that is an issue," he said.
"More than one thing is happening, and often someone is already sleepy to begin with.
"But ... an idea like this needs to be tested, if it does work, it would be really simple to implement."
The RTA said driving a car was a complicated activity, and that the varying degrees of concentration required to undertake the task would negate any hypnotic effect.
"Altering line markings could confuse motorists, and in poor weather conditions and at night could be a major safety hazard," an RTA spokesperson said.
"Crashes attributed to driver fatigue are usually shown to be the result of lack of sleep on the drivers' part before commencing a journey, or of not taking adequate rest breaks during the journey.''
The spokesperson said the RTA was continually monitoring international research, as well as conducting its own into road safety.