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Drivers' eye movements measured to test tiredness

Police in Austria have started measuring eye movements to determine whether motorists are fit to drive.

A newly developed device, called a pupillograph, measures the contractions of the centre of the eye.

"Every second, the diameter of our pupil changes by 0.3 millimetres," neurologist Manfred Walzl explained to Die Presse newspaper.

It reveals whether drivers are too tired to concentrate on the road.

The instrument is currently in a pilot project phase, pending legislation that will make driving while tired illegal.

But it has already helped spot a number of motorists who shouldn't have been on the road.

One lorry driver turned out to have driven from Berlin to Rome, back to Berlin and on to the Austrian-Czech border with only five hours' sleep.

According to Mr Walzl, driving while tired is just as dangerous as drink-driving.

"Getting less than four hours of sleep equals an alcohol level in your blood of 0.5 per mille," he told the paper.

"Tired driving is extremely dangerous, both for the driver and for others."

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