Use this page to access research on the deadly effects of sleepiness at the wheel, as well as health conditions such as sleep apnoea, and measures to tackle the risk of driver fatigue.
Acute Sleep Deprivation and Risk of Motor Vehicle Crash Involvement
AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, Washington DC, USA, 01.12.16
Quantifying the link between amount of sleep and risk of a road collision on an hourly basis.
Intentions and willingness to drive while drowsy among university students: an application of an extended theory of planned behaviour model
University of Maryland, Baltimore, USA, 12.05.16
Perceptions of control have the strongest influence on a drivers’ willingness to continue in spite of high fatigue levels.
Factors associated with self-reported driver sleepiness and incidents in city bus drivers
National Institute of Occupational Health and Safety, Sweden, 2016
Fatigue is a common feature in Swedish city bus drivers, with 19% fighting to stay awake and facing a higher likelihood of crashes.
Driver vigilance level detection systems: a literature survey
International Journal of Vehicle Performance, 2015
An overview of the causes of sleepiness, fatigue and monotony, and the vigilance monitoring techniques and products used to combat them, is presented in the International Journal of Vehicle Performance.
Real-Time Sleepiness Detection for Driver State Monitoring System
Korea Electronics Technology Institute, Republic of Korea, 2015
A real-time technique to detect drowsiness by monitoring the state of a driver's eyes in video sequence is investigated by the Korea Electronics Technology Institute.
Inadequate sleep as a risk factor for drowsy driving and drowsy working behaviors
University of Alabama, USA, 1/11/2015
Lack of sleep is a risk factor among young drivers, with almost a fifth (18%) of students interviewed reporting falling asleep at the wheel.
A model for exploring the relationship between payment structures, fatigue, crash risk, and regulatory response in a heavy-vehicle transport system
Monash University Accident Research Centre (MUARC), Australia, 26/10/15
Research finds that it is essential to take into account the broader economic factors that lead to drowsy driving by HGV drivers, particularly certain pay structures.
Designing fatigue warning systems: The perspective of professional drivers
Department of Industrial Engineering, Tsinghua University, China, 21/10/15
Professional drivers in China have positive attitudes towards fatigue warning systems, and prefer audible warnings.
Sleepy driving and drink driving: attitudes, behaviours, and perceived legitimacy of enforcement of younger and older drivers
Australasian Road Safety Conference 2015, 14-16 October 2015, Queensland, Australia, 19/10/15
Drowsy driving isn’t seen as dangerous by younger drivers compared to older drivers, indicating the need for education for young people.
Examining signs of driver sleepiness, usage of sleepiness countermeasures and the associations with sleepy driving behaviours and individual factors
Queensland University of Technology, Australia, 10/09/2015
70% of Australian drivers have continued to drive in the last year despite experiencing signs of sleepiness.
Various approaches to driver fatigue detection: A review
University of West Bohemia, Czech Republic, 9/09/2015
Existing fatigue warning systems give warnings only when the driver is already experiencing symptoms; this paper presents a method for earlier detection.
Behavioural Observation as a Means of Assessing Sleepiness Related Driving Impairment in Obstructive Sleep Apnoea
University of Adelaide, n.d
Drivers with obstructive sleep apnoea show visible signs of sleepiness before crashing in a driving simulator.
Self-reported circumstances and consequences of driving while sleepy
University of Helsinki, 03/06/15
A fifth of drivers in Finland have fallen asleep at the wheel, with most aware of the signs of sleepiness before they did so.
Sleepiness, sleep, and use of sleepiness countermeasures in shift-working long-haul truck drivers
Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, Helsinki, Finland, 20/05/15
Shift drivers are most likely to get insufficient sleep before a night shift. Better ways of managing the rest periods of these employees need to be developed.
The On-Road Experiences And Awareness Of Sleepiness In A Sample Of Australian Highway Drivers: A Roadside Driver Sleepiness Study
CARRS-Q, Australia, 02/04/15
A survey of drivers on a major road in Australia found that most were aware of the signs of sleepiness, and long-distance drivers were in the most sleep debt.
Obstructive sleep apnea, health-related factors, and long distance heavy vehicle crashes in Western australia: a case control study
Curtin University, Australia, 01/04/15
Heavy goods vehicle drivers with obstructive sleep apnoea are more than three times more likely to be in a crash.
Traffic accident risk
European Respiratory Society, 01/03/15
The risks of driving, and the role of the doctor in offering advice, for people with obstructive sleep apnoea is highlighted in a book by the European Respiratory Society.
Risk factors for automobile accidents caused by falling asleep while driving in obstructive sleep apnea syndrome
Aichi Medical University School of Medicine, Japan, 26/02/15
People with obstructive sleep apnoea are more likely to drive while drowsy, and have more crashes due to falling asleep at the wheel.
Sleepiness at the wheel across Europe: a survey of 19 countries
Portuguese Sleep Association, 12/01/15
17% of drivers have fallen asleep at the wheel in the past two years.
Sleep habits and road traffic accident risk for Iranian occupational drivers
Kerman University of Medical Sciences, Iran, 01/01/15
People who drive for work in Iran are most at risk of crashes if they suffer from poor sleep quality or sleep apnoea.
45% of Swedish bus drivers report trouble staying awake at the wheel at least twice a month, and 19% have been involved in a fatigue-related collision in the past decade.
Drowsy Driving and Risk Behaviors
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 04/07/14
Young drivers and male drivers of any age are more likely to drive when drowsy than older or female drivers.
The effectiveness of nap and active rest breaks for reducing driver sleepiness
Queensland University of Technology, 26/06/14
Stopping for a 15-minute nap is more effective at reducing sleepiness than a 15-minute active break such as having a walk.
The top things drivers do to ‘Fight the Drowse’
DME Automotive, 25/06/14
Only one in four (23%) US drivers say they would pull over and have a nap if drowsy at the wheel.
Employers urged to ensure drivers are fit to drive
Brake and Licence Bureau, 06/05/14
Six in 10 (60%) of employers with staff who drive for work stipulate that employees should stop and rest if they feel sleepy at the wheel.
Are drivers aware of sleepiness and increasing crash risk while driving?
University of New South Wales, 04/05/14
Drivers can accurately recognise when they are in danger of falling asleep but need reminding to pull over when they notice the symptoms.
The impact of continuous driving time and rest time on commercial drivers' driving performance and recovery
Harbin Institute of Technology, 28/01/14
Driving performance deteriorates after two hours continuous driving, and rest required to recover performance increases in line with length of continuous driving.
One night CPAP withdrawal impairs performance at a driving simulator task
Queensland University of Technology, 22/01/14
Drivers with sleep apnoea performed worse on a driver simulator after a full night’s sleep without treatment than after only five hours sleep with treatment.
The role of sleepiness, sleep disorders, and the work environment on heavy-vehicle crashes
Queensland University of Technology, 24/12/13
Scheduling Australian truck drivers to avoid driving between midnight and 6am and encouraging more frequent breaks would reduce the risk of truck crashes by 2-3 times.
More than One in Four American Motorists Admits to Drowsy Driving
AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, 03/11/13
More than a quarter of US drivers have driven when struggling to keep their eyes open because of tiredness in the past 30 days.
Sleepy driving and pulling over for a rest: investigating individual factors that contribute to these driving behaviours
Queensland University of Technology, 16/09/13
Older drivers are more likely than younger drivers to pull over and rest if they feel tired when driving.
Effectiveness of eye-blink measuring to determine driver sleepiness
Technology monitoring eye blinks to assess driver sleepiness is less accurate in the afternoons due to the body clock masking physical expressions of tiredness, raising concern over its effectiveness.
Cruise control may cause drivers to be less attentive and more susceptible to fatigue
VINCI Autoroutes Foundation, 30/07/13
Cruise control may cause drivers to be less attentive and more susceptible to fatigue so should be used with caution.
Caffeine reduces crash risk for long-distance truck drivers but can't replace sleep
George Institute for Global Health, 19/03/13
Caffeine reduces crash risk for long-distance commercial vehicle drivers by 63% but shouldn’t replace regular breaks and sufficient sleep.
Blue light is as effective as caffeine at helping drivers stay alert at night
University of Bordeaux, 19/10/12
Blue light is as effective as caffeine at helping drivers stay alert and in-lane if driving at night and doesn’t disrupt subsequent sleep patterns.
Why does a sleepy driver continue to drive?
Tight schedules and the desire to maximise leisure time are the main reasons truck drivers continue driving while sleepy.
Driver fatigue monitoring system using support vector machines.
University of Malta, 20/06/12
A system which monitors facial appearance for evidence of tired driving has shown a 95% accuracy rate.
In-car countermeasures hardly effective against driver sleepiness
The Swedish Road and Transport Research Institute, 23/04/12
Opening the window or listening to music does not counteract driver fatigue.
Truck drivers, young drivers, and shift workers are the most likely to fall asleep behind the wheel.
Truck drivers in the USA- near misses due to tiredness
National Sleep Foundation, 09/03/12
14% of truck drivers in the USA admit to having a near miss as a result of tiredness.
In the last year one in five car drivers in the Netherlands has driven despite knowing they were too tired to drive safely.
Education key to preventing tiredness crashes
Utrecht University, 11/11/11
Sleep experts recommend educating patients on the dangers of tired driving and untreated sleep disorders as key to preventing tiredness crashes.
One in eight drivers nodded off at the wheel in the past year
Brake and Cambridge Weight Plan, 13/07/11
One in eight UK drivers (12%) has ‘head-nodded’ at the wheel in the past year.
Driving simulator performance remain impaired in patients with severe OSA after treatment
The University of Adelaide, 27/06/11
There is evidence that drivers with severe Obstructive Sleep Apnoea may continue to show reduced driving performance after treatment compared to non-sufferers.
Age and gender comparisons of driving while sleepy: behaviours and risk perceptions
Queensland University of Technology, 05/06/11
One in five Australian drivers regularly drives when feeling sleepy.
Associated factors for drowsy driving among licensed drivers
Tokyo Medical University, 21/03/11
One in five Japanese drivers has fallen asleep behind the wheel.
An Assessment of Driver Drowsiness, Distraction, and Performance in a Naturalistic Setting
Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, 21/03/11
Truck driver tiredness episodes are twice as likely to occur between 6 – 9am as any other time and nearly one in three occur in the first hour of work.
Long nightly driving comparable to drunk driving
Utrecht University, 11/02/11
More than three hours of night time driving on a highway is just as dangerous as drinking four alcoholic drinks.
Factors associated with obstructive sleep apnea among commercial motor vehicle drivers
Meharry Medical College, 11/02/11
Driver medical examinations which look at obesity, hypertension and diabetes may be more effective in diagnosing obstructive sleep apnoea than studying its symptoms.
Fatigue and Road Safety: A Critical Analysis of Recent Evidence
Department for Transport, 01/02/11
Tiredness may be a factor in up to 20% of collisions, and young male drivers are over-represented in fatigue-related crashes.
Asleep at the Wheel: The Prevalence and Impact of Drowsy Driving
AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, 14/01/11
About one in six fatal crashes in the US involves tired drivers, finds this 10 year study.
Slow eye movement detection can prevent sleep-related crashes effectively
Tokyo Institute of Technology, 11/11/10
Slow eye movement detection and warnings can predict and prevent tiredness crashes.
Sleep disorders and accidental risk in a large group of regular registered highway drivers
Centre Hospitalier universitaire de Bordeaux, 10/11/10
Nearly 10% of French drivers regularly experience severe sleepiness at Centre Hospitalier universitaire de Bordeauxthe wheel and over 15% report sleep-related near-misses.
Exploring knowledge and attitudes of taxi drivers with regard to obstructive sleep apnoea
Massey University Centre for Public Health Research, 22/10/10
Clear guidelines are needed for drivers, managers, and healthcare professionals on the diagnosis and treatment of sleep disorders among drivers in New Zealand.
Three quarters of UK drivers admit to driving whilst tired in the past 12 months.
Exhausted new mums, a risk on our roads
Centre for Accident Research & Road Safety, 29/01/10
Most new mothers have experienced near misses on the road as a result of post-partum fatigue making them an 'at risk group' to target.
Sleep Apnea: Traffic and Occupational Accidents
Pneumology Department and Centre for Sleep Medicine, Brussels, 19/01/10
Screening drivers for undiagnosed Sleep Apnoea would result in financial savings from reduced crashes.
Obstructive sleep apnoea among professional taxi drivers: a pilot study
Massey University Sleep/Wake Research Centre, 01/05/09
Untreated sleep apnoea increases crash risk. There should be research to guide policy on medical examinations required for licensing professional drivers as fit to drive.
Tired business drivers risk everything
One in six company car drivers (17%) never take a break. Only one in seven drivers followed recommendations on taking regular breaks.
People who drive for work twice as likely to have fallen asleep at the wheel
Brake, the road safety charity and Green Flag Motoring Assistance, 01/01/08
People who drive for work are twice as likely to have fallen asleep at the wheel in the past year as drivers who don’t drive for work.
Driver fatigue is top concern for fleets
CFC Solutions, 01/12/05
44% of 3,000 fleets surveyed listed driver hours and fatigue as their main safety concern.
One in fourteen drivers (7%) admit falling asleep at the wheel
Brake the road safety charity and Green Flag Motoring Assistance, 31/12/03
One in fourteen drivers (7%) admit falling asleep at the wheel in the past year finds the survey of 1,000 drivers. Almost eight in ten (78%) try ineffective measures to combat tiredness.
Analysis of fatigue-related crashes on Australian roads
Australian Transport Safety Bureau, 15/05/02
16.6% of fatal crashes on Australian roads in 1998 involved driver fatigue.