Crash Risk Perception of Sleepy Driving and Its Comparisons with Drink Driving and Speeding: Which Behavior Is Perceived as the Riskiest?

Driver sleepiness is a major crash risk factor but may be underrecognized as a risky driving behavior. Sleepy driving is usually rated as less of a road safety issue than more well-known risky driving behaviors, such as drink driving and speeding. The objective of this study was to compare perception of crash risk of sleepy driving, drink driving, and speeding. Three hundred Australian drivers completed a questionnaire that assessed crash risk perceptions for sleepy driving, drink driving, and speeding. Additionally, the participants' perceptions of crash risk were assessed for 5 different contextual scenarios that included different levels of sleepiness (low, high), driving duration (short, long), and time of day/circadian influences (afternoon, nighttime) of driving. The analysis confirmed that sleepy driving was considered a risky driving behavior but not as risky as high levels of speeding (P < .05). Yet, the risk of crashing at 4 a.m. was considered as equally risky as low levels of speeding (10 km over the limit). The comparisons of the contextual scenarios revealed driving scenarios that would arguably be perceived as quite risky because time of day/circadian influences were not reported as high risk. The results suggest a lack of awareness or appreciation of circadian rhythm functioning, particularly the descending phase of circadian rhythm that promotes increased sleepiness in the afternoon and during the early hours of the morning. Yet, the results suggested an appreciation of the danger associated with long-distance driving and driver sleepiness. Further efforts are required to improve the community's awareness of the impairing effects from sleepiness and, in particular, knowledge regarding the human circadian rhythm and the increased sleep propensity during the circadian nadir.


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  • Accession Number: 01599475
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Apr 26 2016 3:00PM