Driver education: Enhancing knowledge of sleep, fatigue and risky behaviour to improve decision making in young drivers

Pasquale K. Alvaro, Nicole M. Burnett, Gerard A. Kennedy, William Yu Xun Min, Marcus McMahon, Maree Barnes, Melinda Jackson, Mark E. Howard

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14 Citations (Scopus)


This study assessed the impact of an education program on knowledge of sleepiness and driving behaviour in young adult drivers and their performance and behaviour during simulated night driving. Thirty-four participants (18–26 years old) were randomized to receive either a four-week education program about sleep and driving or a control condition. A series of questionnaires were administered to assess knowledge of factors affecting sleep and driving before and after the four-week education program. Participants also completed a two hour driving simulator task at 1am after 17 h of extended wakefulness to assess the impact on driving behaviour. There was an increase in circadian rhythm knowledge in the intervention group following the education program. Self-reported risky behaviour increased in the control group with no changes in other aspects of sleep knowledge. There were no significant differences in proportion of intervention and control participants who had microsleeps (p ≤.096), stopped driving due to sleepiness (p =.107), recorded objective episodes of drowsiness (p =.455), and crashed (p =.761), although there was a trend towards more control participants having microsleeps and stopping driving. Those in the intervention group reported higher subjective sleepiness at the end of the drive [M = 6.25, SD = 3.83, t(31) = 2.15, p =.05] and were more likely to indicate that they would stop driving [M = 3.08, SD = 1.16, t(31) = 2.24, p =.04]. The education program improved some aspects of driver knowledge about sleep and safety. The results also suggested that the education program lead to an increased awareness of sleepiness. Education about sleep and driving could reduce the risk of drowsy driving and associated road trauma in young drivers, but requires evaluation in a broader sample with assessment of real world driving outcomes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)77-83
Number of pages7
JournalAccident Analysis and Prevention
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2018


  • Circadian rhythm
  • Driving education
  • Fatigue
  • Sleep
  • Sleepiness
  • Young drivers

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