Ford research aims to ease car sickness

What’s one of the phrases parents fear most? “I feel sick!” is probably top when it comes from a child’s voice in the rear seat.

Two-thirds of us at some point will be affected, mostly passengers and especially children and teenagers. Sitting in the back, head down playing video games or watching movies, can make things worse.

New research by Ford with the help of motion sickness experts shows that passengers staring at screens for the duration of a short journey fell ill after an average of just 10 minutes. And those were all grown-ups.

Yawning and perspiring are warning signs for a condition that is caused by mismatches between signals the brain receives from the eyes and from the organs of balance in the ear. Babies don’t get car sick, it only comes when we start walking. Pets are affected though, and incredibly, even goldfish suffer from motion sickness, a phenomenon observed by sailors.

In initial testing it was found that when screens were mounted higher, and the road ahead could be seen on either side, volunteers were less likely to feel sick. Further experiments will explore alternative ways that journeys could be displayed in the cabin so that unseeing passengers can be warned of events such as twisty roads or hump backed bridges.

Here are some ways car sickness can be eased:

  • Move to the middle in the back seats, or preferably the front, to see the road ahead
  • Drive smoothly and where possible avoid sudden braking, harsh acceleration, potholes
  • Distract sufferers – even a family sing along could help
  • Drink cola, eat ginger biscuits, but avoid coffee
  • Use a pillow or head support to keep your head as still as possible
  • Operate air-con to keep fresh air circulating

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