Falling asleep while driving and automobile accidents among patients with obstructive sleep apnea-hypopnea syndrome

Psychiatry Clin Neurosci. 2002 Jun;56(3):333-4. doi: 10.1046/j.1440-1819.2002.01004.x.


Among 448 patients with obstructive sleep apnea-hypopnea syndrome (OSAHS), 40 patients (8.9%) had been involved in one or more automobile accidents during the preceding 5 years. The main cause of these accidents was falling asleep while driving. Excessive sleepiness during driving was associated with an Epworth sleepiness scale (ESS) score of > 11 and/or an apnea-hypopnea index (AHI) of > 15. The automobile accident rate among 182 patients with severe OSAHS (AHI > 30) was significantly higher than the rate among 106 simple snorers (AHI < 5). Although four of the simple snorers were involved in automobile accidents, their ESS scores were all very high (15 or more).

MeSH terms

  • Accidents, Traffic / statistics & numerical data*
  • Automobile Driving*
  • Disorders of Excessive Somnolence / complications*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Japan / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Polysomnography
  • Sleep Apnea, Obstructive / complications*
  • Sleep Apnea, Obstructive / epidemiology