Prior sleep and perceptions of risk when driving

Jessica L. Paterson, Matthew Browne, Sally A. Ferguson, Drew Dawson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Fatigue represents a significant driving risk. One predictor of fatigue, and driving impairment, is prior sleep length. However, it is currently unknown how much sleep driver’s perceive as necessary to drive safety. This may be an important contributor to a driver’s decision about whether they are safe to drive. There is also evidence that reduced prior sleep leads to increased risk-taking. The aim of this study was to investigate community perceptions regarding sleep duration and fatigued driving, and to determine if sleep duration influences risk perception in relation to fatigued driving. 1081 participants completed a telephone survey addressing sleep history, fatigued driving, and risk perception. The majority of the sample (62.4 %) thought a minimum of 6–8 h sleep was necessary to drive safely, however a small percentage (5.6 %) felt that less was necessary or reported that they did not know. Women tended to report that individuals need more hours of sleep to drive safely. Younger age and male gender were both associated with an increased likelihood of reporting having driven despite feeling too tired, and male gender alone with being more likely to report falling asleep at the wheel. Reduced sleep duration in the prior 48 h was associated with reports of driving when too tired, and the perception that less sleep was required to drive safely. These findings imply that the Australian public may need guidance about sleep and safe driving, particularly in regards to the potential for sleep to influence risk propensity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)295-301
Number of pages7
JournalSleep and Biological Rhythms
Issue number3
Early online date16 Mar 2016
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Driving
  • Fatigue
  • Risk
  • Sleep


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