The impact of sleep disorders on driving safety-findings from the Second Strategic Highway Research Program naturalistic driving study

Sleep. 2018 Apr 1;41(4). doi: 10.1093/sleep/zsy023.


Study objectives: This study investigated the association between driving safety and seven sleep disorders amongst 3541 participants of the Second Strategic Highway Research Program (SHRP 2) naturalistic driving study.

Methods: SHRP 2 collected naturalistic driving data from participants between 16 and 98 years old by instrumenting participants' vehicles. The analyses used logistic regression to determine the likelihood of crash or near-crash involvement, Poisson log-linear regression to assess crash or near-crash rate, and ordinal logistic regression to assess driver maneuver appropriateness and crash or near-crash severity. These analyses did not account for any medical treatments for the sleep disorders.

Results: Females with restless legs syndrome/Willis-Ekbom disease (RLS/WED), drivers with insomnia or narcolepsy, are associated with significantly higher risk of crash or near-crash. Drivers with shift work sleep disorder (SWSD) are associated with significantly increased crash or near-crash rate. Females with RLS/WED or sleep apnea and drivers with SWSD are associated with less safe driver maneuver and drivers with periodic limb movement disorder are associated with more severe events. The four analyses provide no evidence of safety decrements associated with migraine.

Conclusions: This study is the first examination on the association between seven sleep disorders and different measures of driving risk using large-scale naturalistic driving study data. The results corroborate much of the existing simulator and epidemiological research related to sleep-disorder patients and their driving safety, but add ecological validity to those findings. These results contribute to the empirical basis for medical professionals, policy makers, and employers in making decisions to aid individuals with sleep disorders in balancing safety and personal mobility.

MeSH terms

  • Accidents, Traffic / prevention & control
  • Accidents, Traffic / psychology*
  • Accidents, Traffic / statistics & numerical data*
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Automobile Driving / psychology*
  • Automobile Driving / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Migraine Disorders / epidemiology
  • Migraine Disorders / psychology
  • Narcolepsy / epidemiology
  • Narcolepsy / psychology
  • Patient Safety / statistics & numerical data*
  • Restless Legs Syndrome / epidemiology
  • Restless Legs Syndrome / psychology
  • Sleep Initiation and Maintenance Disorders / epidemiology
  • Sleep Initiation and Maintenance Disorders / psychology
  • Sleep Wake Disorders / classification*
  • Sleep Wake Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Sleep Wake Disorders / psychology
  • Young Adult