Author(s): Connor J, Whitlock G, Norton R, Jackson R
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Abstract To assess the available evidence for a causal role of driver sleepiness in car crashes or car crash injury, and to quantify the effect, a systematic review of the international literature was conducted. The review included all studies with a fatigue-related exposure measure, a crash or crash injury outcome measure and a comparison group, regardless of publication status, language or date of the study. Eighteen cross-sectional studies and one case-control study fulfilled the inclusion criteria. The fatigue-related exposures investigated in these studies were sleep disorders (n = 14), shift work (n = 2), sleep deprivation/fragmentation (n = 1), and excessive daytime sleepiness (n = 2). Only one study used an injury outcome measure. Studies were limited in their ability to establish a causal relationship by their design, by biases, and in many cases, by small sample sizes. The better quality cross-sectional studies were suggestive of a positive relationship between fatigue and crash risk, but could not provide reliable estimates of the strength of the association. The case-control study provided moderately strong evidence for an association between sleep apnoea and risk of driver injury, with an adjusted odds ratio of 7.2 (95\% confidence interval 2.4-21.8). We conclude that the direct epidemiological evidence for a causal role of fatigue in car crashes is weak, but suggestive of an effect. To estimate the burden of injury due to fatigue-related crashes in the population, information is required from well-designed observational epidemiological studies about the prevalence of fatigue in the car driving population and the size of the risk this confers.
This article was published in Accid Anal Prev
and referenced in Journal of Ergonomics