Don’t listen to this podcast while driving

The Canada Safety Council has created what might just be the world’s dullest podcast to demonstrate just how sleep-inducing some of Canada’s most monotonous highways can be for motorists. The organization says that drowsy driving can have “catastrophic consequences,” but is often overlooked.

Developed by Taxi, “Sleep Tracks” consists of three tracks that range in length from eight to 10 hours, and replicate what CSC describes as the “hypnotic power” of driving along Canadian highways. It’s described as a “sleep aid,” but it’s actually intended as a pointed warning about how highway driving has the potential to lull people to sleep.

The tracks are available on major streaming services including Spotify and Apple Music, as well as on a dedicated website that also provides information on how to people can reduce the risks of drowsy driving.

Each track features the audio from a lengthy drive—a 731-kilometre trek along B.C. roads including the Coquihalla Highway; an 809-kilometre drive through Alberta, including the notorious Highway 63; and a 660-kilometre trek across Ontario, including Highway 401.

Each track was created using directional microphones installed on cars representing a variety of vehicles, including a standard internal combustion engine, a hybrid, and a fully electric vehicle.

Each begins with a scene-setting voiceover: The Ontario track, for example, takes place during the long drive home from the cottage, while the Alberta soundtrack talks about a two-hour flight delay before shifting to the 809-kilometre drive out of Calgary and north to Highway 63.

The remainder of the track is nothing but road noise, punctuated occasionally by the sound of light rain on the windshield and the rhythmic thunk of windshield wipers.

“We fell in love with this idea because of how unexpected it is, but it makes perfect sense once you hear it,” said Mike Houldsworth, senior writer at Taxi. “We’re firm believers that one of the best ways to convince your audience of something is to prove it by letting them experience it for themselves.”

According to the the Canadian Council of Motor Transport Administrators, drowsiness is a factor in nearly one-quarter (21%) of all car accidents in Canada. However, the CSC says that many drivers don’t the risk seriously.

Chris Powell