Simple reaction time, duration of driving and sleep deprivation in young versus old automobile drivers
Car accidents are one of the major causes of death in modern society and sleepiness is identified as one major risk factor. The purposes of the present study were: (1) to relate the sleep loss and driving time to a performance indicator and (2) to identify risk factors of performance decrement. We investigated 294 drivers (age < 30 years, n=100; age ≥ 30 years, n=194) who drove into a rest stop area. All were asked to fill out a questionnaire about the drive and previous sleep/wake pattern, and to carry out a 10 min, simple reaction time (RT) test. The level of performance is identified by the 10% slowest RTs. Multiple regression analysis, with the mean of the 10% Slowest RTs as the dependent variable, showed that age, duration of drive, and duration (shortness) of previous breaks were the main predictors. Our study suggests that public awareness may need to be raised with respect excessive length of driving, especially in young drivers.