Sleep quality and motor vehicle crashes in adolescents

J Clin Sleep Med. 2010 Feb 15;6(1):41-5.


Study objectives: Sleep-related complaints are common in adolescents, but their impact on the rate of motor vehicle crashes accidents is poorly known. We studied subjective sleep quality, driving habits, and self-reported car crashes in high-school adolescents.

Methods: Self-administered questionnaires (with items exploring driving habits) were distributed to 339 students who had a driver's license and attended 1 of 7 high schools in Bologna, Italy. Statistical analysis were performed to describe lifestyle habits, sleep quality, sleepiness, and their relationship with the binary dependent variable (presence or absence of car crashes) to identify the factors significantly affecting the probability of car crashes in a multivariate binary logistic regression model.

Results: Nineteen percent of the sample reported bad sleep, 64% complained of daytime sleepiness, and 40% reported sleepiness while driving. Eighty students (24%), 76% of which were males, reported that they had already crashed at least once, and 15% considered sleepiness to have been the main cause of their crash. As compared with adolescents who had not had a crash, those who had at least 1 previous crash reported that they more frequently used to drive (79% vs 62%), drove at night (25% vs 9%), drove while sleepy (56% vs 35%), had bad sleep (29% vs 16%), and used stimulants such as caffeinated soft drinks (32% vs 19%), tobacco (54% vs 27%), and drugs (21% vs 7%). The logistic procedure established a significant predictive role of male sex (p < 0.0001; odds ratio = 3.3), tobacco use (p < 0.0001; odds ratio = 3.2), sleepiness while driving (p = 0.010; odds ratio = 2.1), and bad sleep (p = 0.047; odds ratio = 1.9) for the crash risk.

Conclusions: Our results confirm the high prevalence of sleep-related complaints among adolescents and highlight their independent role on self-reported crash risk.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Accidents, Traffic / statistics & numerical data*
  • Adolescent
  • Automobile Driving
  • Chronic Disease
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Italy / epidemiology
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Prevalence
  • Sleep Deprivation / epidemiology
  • Sleep Wake Disorders / epidemiology*