The National Academies

Safety IDEA Project 40 [Active (IDEA)]

Using Light to Reduce Fatigue and Improve Alertness in Railway Operations

  Project Data
Funds: $99,400
Staff Responsibility: Velvet Fitzpatrick
Research Agency: Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Principal Investigator: Mariana Figuiero
Effective Date: 4/25/2019
Fiscal Year: 2019

With the advent and increasing prevalence of automatic train operation systems, dispatch centers are becoming more central to railway transportation worldwide. Railway operation is, however, highly susceptible to the detrimental effects of sleepiness causing severe nighttime fatigue and related impairment of work performance among dispatchers. A novel approach to mitigate the effect of sleepiness on duty is the use of light, which can elicit an acute alerting response from humans at any time of day or night
The primary objective of this research project is to test and demonstrate the effectiveness and the acceptability of combined red and white light for increasing alertness and improving performance in a simulated dispatch work environment laboratory study using objective (i.e., electroencephalogram) and subjective (i.e., Karolinska Sleepiness Scale) measures of alertness and objective measures of short-term performance (i.e., auditory–visual performance testing).
This project will lay the foundation for evaluating lighting interventions in the railroad environment and provide potential benefits that can be translated to support accident prevention strategies and policies that might help reduce the social and economic consequences of accidents.

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