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Signs of Driver Sleepiness and Risky Sleepy Driving Behaviours: The Associations with Demographic, Work, and Sleep-related Factors

Watling, C, Armstrong, K, Haworth, N (Peer reviewed)

Driver Psychology / Human Factors

ARSC conference 2015

Driving while sleepy is regarded as a substantial crash risk factor. Reducing the risk of sleep-related crashes predominately rests with the driver's awareness of experiencing signs that are common when sleepy; such as yawning, frequent eye blinks, and difficulty keeping eyes open. However the relationship between the signs of sleepiness and risky sleepy driving behaviours is largely unknown. The current study sought to examine the relationships between drivers' experiences of the signs of sleepiness, risky sleepy driving behaviours, and the associations with demographic, work and sleep-related factors. In total 1,608 participants completed a questionnaire administered via a telephone interview that assessed their experiences and behaviours of driving while sleepy. The results revealed a number of demographic, work and sleep-related factors were associated with experiencing signs of sleepiness when driving. Signs of sleepiness were also found to mediate the relationship between continuing to drive while sleepy and having a sleep-related close call event. A subgroup analysis based on age (under 30 and 30 years or older) found younger drivers were more likely to continue to drive when sleepy despite experiencing more signs of sleepiness. The results suggest participants had considerable experience with the signs of sleepiness and driving while sleepy. Actions to be taken from this research include informing the content of driver education campaigns regarding the importance of the signs of sleepiness. Working together to educate all drivers about the dangerousness of driving when experiencing signs of sleepiness is an important road safety outcome.