SWOV Catalogus


Fatigued and drowsy driving : attitudes, concerns and practices of Ontario drivers.
C 40169 [electronic version only]
Vanlaar, W.G.M. Simpson, H.M. Mayhew, D.R. & Robertson, R.D.
Ottawa, Ontario, Traffic Injury Research Foundation (TIRF), 2007, VI + 32 p., ref. - ISBN 978-0-920071-68-7

Samenvatting This report summarizes the results from a public opinion poll, developed and carried out by the Traffic Injury Research Foundation (TIRF), to examine the extent and nature of the issue of fatigued and drowsy driving in the province of Ontario. It is part of a larger study about this problem in Ontario, which is intended to provide the foundation for establishing evidence-based practices to deal with fatigue and drowsiness among Ontario drivers. The survey showed that the problem of driving while fatigued or drowsy in Ontario is a serious one: nearly 60% of Ontario drivers, corresponding to some five million, admit that they have driven while fatigued or drowsy at least sometime; 14.5% of Ontario drivers, or 1,280,000, say they actually fell asleep or nodded off while driving at least once in the past year; among those 1,280,000 drivers who fell asleep or nodded off while driving, about 105,000 of them did so on numerous occasions (more than five times); collectively, these drivers account for about 5.5 million trips in Ontario during which they fell asleep or nodded off; during 573,000 of these trips the driver had to brake or steer to avoid being in a collision; and the total number of Ontario drivers who were involved in at least one crash in the past year due to fatigued or drowsy driving may be as high as 167,000. Not surprisingly, the findings suggest that driving while feeling fatigued or drowsy increases the chances of falling asleep or nodding off at the wheel. However, even those drivers who state they never or rarely drive while feeling fatigued or drowsy are at risk (6.6% of them report they have actually fallen asleep or nodded off at the wheel), probably because it is difficult for them to recognize the symptoms. In light of the findings, recognizing the onset of fatigue or drowsiness and taking a break before you start to feel fatigued or drowsy are especially important; failing to recognize onset may seriously increase the chances of falling asleep or nodding off while driving because once you start to feel fatigued or drowsy it may be particularly difficult to assess when you will actually fall asleep. The challenge is to make drivers understand how difficult it is to assess when they will fall asleep once they start to feel fatigued or drowsy and to convince them to take breaks before onset of fatigue or drowsiness. . The challenge is heightened by the fact that Ontario drivers are less concerned about fatigued or drowsy driving than they are about other traffic safety issues: although 59.6% think fatigued or drowsy driving is a serious or extremely serious problem, between 65.4% and 82.2% think other issues are of concern. Possible explanations are: the majority of Ontario drivers believe that others are not concerned about it, confirming their belief that fatigued or drowsy driving is not as important as other traffic safety issues; most Ontario drivers think that others are more likely to engage in other risky behaviours – e.g., driving while distracted and speeding excessively – than driving while fatigued or drowsy; the majority of Ontario drivers are convinced that fatigued or drowsy driving is less likely to result in a crash than other risky behaviours; most Ontario drivers think fatigued or drowsy driving leads to less severe crashes than other risky behaviours; and/or Ontario drivers believe they can control the dangers imposed by fatigued or drowsy driving because they think there are several effective ways to overcome fatigue or drowsiness at the wheel. The lack of concern about fatigued or drowsy driving, relative to the other probed traffic safety problems, appears somewhat incongruous with what is known about it as a cause of road crashes. Ontario drivers do not appear to appreciate the seriousness of the problem and, perhaps of greater importance, believe they can control the risks associated with it. In this regard, generally speaking, the most effective tactic for overcoming fatigue or drowsiness (stop to nap or sleep) is not the most popular one among Ontario drivers. Conversely, and unfortunately, tactics used most often by Ontario drivers are the ones that are the least effective or not effective at all. This disparity needs to be addressed. (Author/publisher)
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