Night-time driving over long periods increases risk of accidents

Oct 29, 2008

(PhysOrg.com) -- Does driving at night affect the risk of accidents? Drowsiness resulting from a lack of sleep is a recognized risk factor which causes traffic accidents. But what happens if drivers combine extended driving and sleep deprivation? A study carried out by researchers from CNRS, Inrets, the University of Bordeaux and the University of Stockholm has shown that fatigue connected to the duration of driving very significantly increases the risk of accidents at night.

The study, led by Pierre Philip from the Laboratory for motion, adaptation and cognition (CNRS/Université Bordeaux 1 and Bordeaux 2), was able to determine whether 2, 4 and 8 hours of nocturnal driving affected driving performance differently. In order to evaluate the fatigue caused by accumulated driving time, the researchers had fourteen young volunteers drive on an open highway during three nocturnal driving sessions: from 3-5 am, 1-5 am and 9 pm-5 am.

Driving durations were therefore different, but sleep pressure at the end of the driving session, due to the late hours (2-5 am) was identical. The scientists then counted the number of times the drivers veered off course and crossed the lateral lines inappropriately during the last hour of driving in each session. They thus calculated that in comparison with the reference session (9-10 pm), the risk of inappropriate line crossing was:

- 6 times greater during the 3-5am driving session;
- 15 times greater during the 1-5am driving session;
- and 24 times greater during the 9 pm-5am driving session.

In addition, in comparison with the shortest driving session, from 3-5 am, the risk of inappropriate crossing of the lateral lines increased 2.6 times during the 1-5 am driving session and increased fourfold during the 9 pm-5 am driving session.

Extended nocturnal driving therefore has a very large impact on driving performance: currently, safety messages and regulations on time at the wheel do not differentiate between day-time and night-time driving. This study raises the question of whether maximum durations for driving at night should be reconsidered.

Reference: Extended driving impairs nocturnal driving performances, Patricia Sagaspe ; Jacques Taillard ; Torbjorn Åkerstedt ; Virginie Bayon ; Stéphane Espié ; Guillaume Chaumet ; Bernard Bioulac ; Pierre Philip, PloS One, 23 October 2008

Provided by CNRS

Explore further: Porches an overlooked lead hazard

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Singapore grapples with smartphone addiction

Jun 14, 2014

Easily distracted? Can't be separated from your smartphone? Constantly checking your device for no real reason? Chances are you're an addict—and you may even need professional help.

Climate talks: 'Raise your voice, not sea level' - UN

Jun 06, 2014

The United Nations used the occasion of World Environment Day on Thursday to demand action on climate change for the protection of small island states threatened by rising seas, drought and floods.

Recommended for you

Some doctors won't see patients with anti-vaccine views

6 hours ago

With California gripped by a measles outbreak, Dr. Charles Goodman posted a clear notice in his waiting room and on Facebook: His practice will no longer see children whose parents won't get them vaccinated.

Obamacare Co-ops show promise and peril

8 hours ago

The Affordable Care Act includes a program designed to promote greater competitiveness in the health insurance marketplace by creating health insurance cooperatives. There are now more than 20 such entities serving 26 states ...

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

dirk_bruere
not rated yet Oct 29, 2008
What a surprise - NOT

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.