Efficacy of proxy definitions for identification of fatigue/sleep-related crashes: An Australian evaluation


Fatigue/sleepiness is recognised as an important contributory factor in fatal and serious injury road traffic incidents (RTIs), however, identifying fatigue/sleepiness as a causal factor remains an uncertain science. Within Australia attending police officers at a RTI report the causal factors; one option is fatigue/sleepiness. In some Australian jurisdictions police incident databases are subject to post hoc analysis using a proxy definition for fatigue/sleepiness. This secondary analysis identifies further RTIs caused by fatigue/sleepiness not initially identified by attending officers. The current study investigates the efficacy of such proxy definitions for attributing fatigue/sleepiness as a RTI causal factor. Over 1600 Australian drivers were surveyed regarding their experience and involvement in fatigue/sleep-related RTIs and near-misses during the past five years. Driving while fatigued/sleepy had been experienced by the majority of participants (66.0% of participants). Fatigue/sleep-related near misses were reported by 19.1% of participants, with 2.4% being involved in a fatigue/sleep-related RTI. Examination of the characteristics for the most recent event (either a near miss or crash) found that the largest proportion of incidents (28.0%) occurred when commuting to or from work, followed by social activities (25.1%), holiday travel (19.8%), or for work purposes (10.1%). The fatigue/sleep related RTI and near-miss experience of a representative sample of Australian drivers does not reflect the proxy definitions used for fatigue/sleepiness identification. In particular those RTIs that occur in urban areas and at slow speeds may not be identified. While important to have a strategy for identifying fatigue/sleepiness related RTIs proxy measures appear best suited to identifying specific subsets of such RTIs.

Transportation Research Part F: Traffic Psychology and Behaviour