Sleep disorders, sleepiness, and near-miss accidents among long-distance highway drivers in the summertime

Sleep Med. 2014 Jan;15(1):23-6. doi: 10.1016/j.sleep.2013.06.018. Epub 2013 Sep 14.


Objective: We aimed to investigate sleepiness, sleep hygiene, sleep disorders, and driving risk among highway drivers.

Methods: We collected data using cross-sectional surveys, including the Epworth Sleepiness Scale (ESS) questionnaire, Basic Nordic Sleep Questionnaire (BNSQ), and a travel questionnaire; we also obtained sleep data from the past 24 h and information on usual sleep schedules. Police officers invited automobile drivers to participate.

Results: There were 3051 drivers (mean age, 46±13 y; 75% men) who completed the survey (80% participation rate). Eighty-seven (2.9%) drivers reported near-miss sleepy accidents (NMSA) during the trip; 8.5% of NMSA occurred during the past year and 2.3% reported sleepiness-related accidents occurring in the past year. Mean driving time was 181±109 min and mean sleep duration in the past 24 h was 480±104 min; mean sleep duration during workweeks was 468±74 min. Significant risk factors for NMSA during the trip were NMSA in the past year, nonrestorative sleep and snoring in the past 3 months, and sleepiness during the interview. Neither sleep time in the past 24 h nor acute sleep debt (sleep time difference between workweeks and the past 24 h) correlated with the occurrence of near misses.

Conclusions: Unlike previous studies, acute sleep loss no longer explains sleepiness at the wheel. Sleep-related breathing disorders or nonrestorative sleep help to explain NMSA more adequately than acute sleep loss.

Keywords: Behavior; Highway driving; Near-miss; Risk factors; Sleep apnea syndrome; Sleepiness.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Accidents, Traffic / statistics & numerical data*
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Automobile Driving / statistics & numerical data*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Disorders of Excessive Somnolence / epidemiology*
  • Dyssomnias / epidemiology
  • Female
  • France / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Risk Factors
  • Seasons*
  • Sleep Apnea Syndromes / epidemiology
  • Sleep Disorders, Circadian Rhythm / epidemiology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Young Adult