There is something deeply disturbing when scientific researchers cross the line to become lobbyists in the latest Nanny State™ expansion. Sure, explain one’s findings and the implications of those findings. Allow others to test the methodology. But do not become a passionate advocate for a new incursion by the Nanny State lobby into our liberty in the name of health and safety.
Take this article from The Australian about roadside tests for drowsy drivers. As Noodle said to me, why not hand out free amphetamine pills? Or No-Doz? Or rely on the private sector to provide the Driver Reviver rest stops? But to have random Police stops to check for drowsiness is a step too far.
It’s enough to make you wish you never got out of bed – random roadside saliva tests to catch fatigued drivers.
The tests are one of the big goals of a new multimillion-dollar research project aimed at waking up dozy Australians.
Driver sleepiness causes two in ten serious car crash injuries in Australia, says Monash University Professor Shantha Rajaratnam, the project’s research leader.
He believes a roadside test for drowsy drivers is achievable.
“It is something that law enforcement agencies all over the world have been looking for.”
He also envisages new devices that test a worker’s sweat or saliva before they operate machinery.
Smart office lighting and personalised shift schedules are other key goals at the Co-operative Research Centre (CRC) for Alertness, Safety and Productivity, which was opened at Monash in Victoria on Wednesday.
Its multi-disciplinary team from 26 universities, tech companies and government agencies also aim to find better ways to diagnose insomnia and obstructive sleep apnea.
Getting a good night’s sleep was not as simple as it sounded, said Bob Baldwin, parliamentary secretary to the minister for industry.
“Over 20 per cent of the population are affected by a sleeping disorder.”
The government is investing $14.5 million in the centre over seven years.
“We want a more comprehensive approach to the management of alertness,” said Prof Rajaratnam.
The aim was to transfer neurobiological knowledge into the real world.
New office lighting systems could reset the body clock and directly activate the brain to improve alertness and performance.
“It could give workers a boost to get through their shift, feeling clearheaded and up to the job,” Prof Rajaratnam said.
“Sleep disorders are highly prevalent in our society.
“By identifying the vulnerable individuals, we could develop targeted treatments and vastly improve the safety and performance of workers.”
The centre offered a world-leading opportunity to solve issues related to fatigue, said chief executive Anthony Williams.
“We’re planning on a range of personalised, state-of-the art tools that will improve alertness, boost performance and make our country safer.”