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Sleepy driving and drink driving: attitudes, behaviours, and perceived legitimacy of enforcement of younger and older drivers

Watling, C, Watling, H (Peer reviewed)

Drink Driving

ARSC conference 2015

Sleepy driving and drink driving are two risky driving behaviours that substantially contribute to road crashes. Several studies demonstrate equivalent levels of impairment from both sleepy and drink driving. Yet, drivers perceive sleepy and drink driving distinctly different, with younger and older drivers engaging in these two risky driving behaviours at different rates. The current study sought to examine the sleepy and drink driving behaviours and perceptions in a sample of 114 younger (17-29 years) and 177 older (30+ years) drivers. Compared to older drivers, younger drivers reported more positive attitudes toward sleepy and drink driving behaviours, as well as more negative views regarding perceived legitimacy of sleepy driving enforcement. Younger drivers were also more likely to report performing sleepy driving behaviours than older drivers. Younger drivers reported greater likelihood to drive while sleepy, lower perceptions of legitimacy for sleepy driving, and more positive attitudes towards sleepy driving when compared to drink driving and the same pattern was found for older drivers as well. Subsequently, the self-reported likelihood of driving while sleepy was greater than drink driving in both age groups. Overall, the results suggest that sleepy driving is not viewed as equally dangerous as drink driving with younger drivers' perceptions being more lenient than older drivers' perceptions. It is likely that change is needed regarding the perceptions of dangerousness of sleepy driving with a particular focus on younger drivers seemingly needed.