Factors associated with falling asleep at the wheel among long-distance truck drivers

Accid Anal Prev. 2000 Jul;32(4):493-504. doi: 10.1016/s0001-4575(99)00067-6.


Data on the prevalence and hypothesized predictors of falling asleep while driving were gathered through face-to-face interviews with 593 long-distance truck drivers randomly selected at public and private rest areas and routine roadside truck safety inspections. Hypothesized predictor variables related to drivers' typical work and rest patterns, extent of daytime and night-time drowsiness, symptoms of sleep disorder, measures of driving exposure, and demographic characteristics. A sizeable proportion of long-distance truck drivers reported falling asleep at the wheel of the truck: 47.1% of the survey respondents had ever fallen asleep at the wheel of a truck, and 25.4% had fallen asleep at the wheel in the past year. Factor analysis reduced the large set of predictors to six underlying, independent factors: greater daytime sleepiness; more arduous schedules, with more hours of work and fewer hours off-duty; older, more experienced drivers; shorter, poorer sleep on road; symptoms of sleep disorder; and greater tendency to night-time drowsy driving. Based on multivariate logistic regression, all six factors were predictive of self-reported falling asleep at the wheel. Falling asleep was also associated with not having been alerted by driving over shoulder rumble strips. The results suggest that countermeasures that limit drivers' work hours and enable drivers to get adequate rest and that identify drivers with sleep disorders are appropriate methods to reduce sleepiness-related driving by truck drivers.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Accidents, Traffic / prevention & control
  • Accidents, Traffic / statistics & numerical data*
  • Adult
  • Causality
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Motor Vehicles / statistics & numerical data*
  • New York / epidemiology
  • Occupational Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Risk Factors
  • Sleep Disorders, Circadian Rhythm / epidemiology*
  • Work Schedule Tolerance*