Sleepiness and hazard perception while driving

Smith, Simon, Horswill, Mark, Chambers, Brooke and Wetton, Mark (2009) Sleepiness and hazard perception while driving Canberra: Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional development and Local Government

Author Smith, Simon
Horswill, Mark
Chambers, Brooke
Wetton, Mark
Title of report Sleepiness and hazard perception while driving
Parent publication University of Queensland
Publication date 2009-04
ISBN 978064222582-2
Publisher Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional development and Local Government
Series Road Safety Grant Report No. 2009-001
Place of publication Canberra
Start page 1
End page 31
Total pages 31
Language eng
Subjects 1701 Psychology
Abstract/Summary Young drivers are involved disproportionately in serious vehicle crashes, and are involved disproportionately in sleepiness-related crashes. Specific difficulties in perceiving road hazards, and further impairment of this skill when sleepy, may contribute to this problem in young and inexperienced drivers. Perception, and response, to potential driving hazards is typically better in experienced drivers than in inexperienced drivers. However, the relationship between driver experience and sleepiness is not known. A sample of 34 young, and inexperienced, drivers (aged 17-24 years, with less than three years driving experience) and 33 older, and experienced, drivers (aged 28-36 years, with at least ten years driving experience) completed a video-based hazard perception task, in which they were instructed to anticipate a range of genuine traffic conflicts filmed locally. Their average response time to the traffic conflicts was calculated. Drivers were either tested at a time of increased sleepiness (3am) or at a point of decreased sleepiness (10am). As expected, the young, inexperienced drivers were significantly slower at identifying hazards than were the older, experienced drivers. While no overall effect of sleepiness on hazard perception was found, inexperienced drivers were slower on this measure at night. It appears that the hazard perception skills of the older, more experienced, drivers were relatively unaffected by mild increases in sleepiness while the hazard perception skills of the younger, inexperienced drivers, were significantly slowed by a mild increase in sleepiness. The results may explain the increased risk of driving while sleepy for young adult drivers. Sleepiness impairs elements of driving performance that are critical to safe driving, including hazard perception.
Keyword road safety
Driving safety
Young Drivers
Q-Index Code AX
Q-Index Status Provisional Code

Document type: Research Report
Collection: School of Psychology Publications
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Created: Thu, 23 Sep 2010, 08:56:28 EST by Ms May Balasaize on behalf of Faculty of Social & Behavioural Sciences