High risk of near-crash driving events following night-shift work

Michael L. Lee, Mark E. Howard, William J. Horrey, Yulan Liang, Clare Anderson, Michael S. Shreeve, Conor S. O'Brien, Charles A. Czeisler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

88 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Night-shift workers are at high risk of drowsiness-related motor vehicle crashes as a result of circadian disruption and sleep restriction. However, the impact of actual night-shift work on measures of drowsiness and driving performance while operating a real motor vehicle remains unknown. Sixteen night-shift workers completed two 2-h daytime driving sessions on a closed driving track at the Liberty Mutual Research Institute for Safety: (i) a postsleep baseline driving session after an average of 7.6 ± 2.4 h sleep the previous night with no night-shift work, and (ii) a postnightshift driving session following night-shift work. Physiologicalmeasures of drowsiness were collected, including infrared reflectance oculography, electroencephalography, and electrooculography. Driving performance measures included lane excursions, near-crash events, and drives terminated because of failure to maintain control of the vehicle. Eleven near-crashes occurred in 6 of 16 postnight-shift drives (37.5 ), and 7 of 16 postnight-shift drives (43.8 ) were terminated early for safety reasons, compared with zero near-crashes or early drive terminations during 16 postsleep drives (Fishers exact: P = 0.0088 and P = 0.0034, respectively). Participants had a significantly higher rate of lane excursions, average Johns Drowsiness Scale, blink duration, and number of slow eye movements during postnight-shift drives compared with postsleep drives (3.09/min vs. 1.49/min; 1.71 vs. 0.97; 125 ms vs. 100 ms; 35.8 vs. 19.1; respectively, P <0.05 for all). Night-shift work increases driver drowsiness, degrading driving performance and increasing the risk of near-crash drive events. With more than 9.5 million Americans working overnight or rotating shifts and one-third of United States commutes exceeding 30 min, these results have implications for traffic and occupational safety
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)176-181
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Volume113
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2016

Keywords

  • fatigue
  • drowsy driving
  • sleep
  • infrared oculography
  • EEG

Cite this