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Free Content Sleepiness, near-misses and driving accidents among a representative population of French drivers

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Study objectives were to determine the prevalence of sleepy driving accidents and to explore the factors associated with near-miss driving accidents and actual driving accidents in France. An epidemiological survey based on telephone interviews was conducted on a representative sample of French drivers. The questionnaire included sociodemographics, driving and sleep disorder items, and the Epworth sleepiness scale. Of 4774 drivers (response rate: 86%), 28% experienced at least one episode of severe sleepiness at the wheel (i.e. requiring to stop driving) in the previous year; 11% of drivers reported at least one near-miss accident in the previous year (46% sleep-related); 5.8% of drivers reported at least one accident, 5.2% of these being sleep related (an estimate of 90 000 sleep-related accidents per year in France). Sleepy driving accidents occurred more often in the city (53.8%), during short trips (84.6%) and during the day (84.6%). Using logistic regression, the best predictive factor for near-misses was the occurrence of at least one episode of severe sleepiness at the wheel in the past year [odds ratio (OR) 6.50, 95% confidence interval (CI), 5.20–8.12, P < 0.001]. The best predictive factors for accidents were being young (18–30 years; OR 2.13, 95% CI, 1.51–3.00, P < 0.001) and experiencing at least one episode of severe sleepiness at the wheel (OR 2.03, 95% CI, 1.57–2.64, P < 0.001). Sleepiness at the wheel is a risk factor as important as age for traffic accidents. Near-misses are highly correlated to sleepiness at the wheel and should be considered as strong warning signals for future accidents.
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Keywords: French drivers; accidents; age; epidemiology; near-misses; sleepiness

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Hôpital Hôtel-Dieu, Paris 2: INSERM U897, ISPED, Université Bordeaux 2, Bordeaux 3: INSERM U657, Université Bordeaux 2, Bordeaux 4: ASFA, Paris, France 5: GENPPHASS, CHU Bordeaux, Bordeaux 6: CNRS UMR-5227, Université Bordeaux 2, Bordeaux

Publication date: 2010-12-01

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