Issue Navigator

Volume 15 No. 09
Earn CME
Accepted Papers

Scientific Investigations

Eye-Blink Parameters Detect On-Road Track-Driving Impairment Following Severe Sleep Deprivation

Shamsi Shekari Soleimanloo, PhD1,2; Vanessa E. Wilkinson, PhD1; Jennifer M. Cori, PhD1; Justine Westlake, BA/BAppSci (Hons)1; Bronwyn Stevens, GradDipProfPsych1; Luke A. Downey, PhD1,4; Brook A. Shiferaw, BSc (Hon)1; Shantha M. W. Rajaratnam, PhD2; Mark E. Howard, PhD1,2,3
1Institute for Breathing and Sleep, Department of Respiratory and Sleep Medicine, Austin Health, Australia; 2School of Psychological Sciences, Monash University, Australia; 3Department of Medicine, University of Melbourne, Australia; 4Centre for Human Psychopharmacology, Swinburne University of Technology, Hawthorn, Australia

Study Objectives:

Drowsiness leads to 20% of fatal road crashes, while inability to assess drowsiness has hampered drowsiness interventions. This study examined the accuracy of eye-blink parameters for detecting drowsiness related driving impairment in real time.


Twelve participants undertook two sessions of 2-hour track-driving in an instrumented vehicle following a normal night’s sleep or 32 to 34 hours of extended wake in a randomized crossover design. Eye-blink parameters and lane excursion events were monitored continuously.


Sleep deprivation increased the rates of out-of-lane driving events and early drive terminations. Episodes of prolonged eyelid closures, blink duration, the ratio of amplitude to velocity of eyelid closure, and John’s Drowsiness Score (JDS, a composite score) were also increased following sleep deprivation. A time-on-task (drive duration) effect was evident for out-of-lane events rate and most eye-blink parameters after sleep deprivation. The JDS demonstrated the strongest association with the odds of out-of-lane events in the same minute, whereas measures of blink duration and prolonged eye closure were stronger indicators of risk for out-of-lane events over longer periods of 5 minutes and 15 minutes, respectively. Eye-blink parameters also achieved moderate accuracies (specificities from 70.12% to 84.15% at a sensitivity of 50%) for detecting out-of-lane events in the same minute, with stronger associations over longer timeframes of 5 minutes to 15 minutes.


Eyelid closure parameters are useful tools for monitoring and predicting drowsiness-related driving impairment (out-of-lane events) that could be utilized for monitoring drowsiness and assessing the efficacy of drowsiness interventions.

Clinical Trial Registration:

This study is registered with the Australian New Zealand Clinical Trial Registry (ANCTR), ACTRN12612000102875.


Shekari Soleimanloo S, Wilkinson VE, Cori JM,Westlake J, Stevens B, Downey LA, Shiferaw BA, Rajaratnam SMW, Howard ME. Eye-blink parameters detect on-road track-driving impairment following severe sleep deprivation. J Clin Sleep Med. 2019;15(9):1271–1284.

Supplemental Material

Login to view supplemental material

Please login to continue reading the full article

Subscribers to JCSM get full access to current and past issues of the JCSM.

Login to JCSM

Not a subscriber?

Join the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and receive a subscription to JCSM with your membership

Subscribe to JCSM:  $125/volume year for individuals or $225/volume year for institutions to access all current articles and archives published in JCSM.

Download this article*:   $20 to access a PDF version of a specific article from the current issue of JCSM.

*Purchase of an article provides permission to access and print the article for personal scholarly, research and educational use. Please note: access to the article is from the computer on which the article is purchased ONLY. Purchase of the article does not permit distribution, electronic or otherwise, of the article without the written permission of the AASM. Further, purchase does not permit the posting of article text on an online forum or website.