Original article

Scand J Work Environ Health Online-first -article    pdf

doi:10.5271/sjweh.3677

Are professional drivers less sleepy than non-professional drivers?

by Anund A, Ahlström C, Fors C, Åkerstedt T

Objective It is generally believed that professional drivers can manage quite severe fatigue before routine driving performance is affected. In addition, there are results indicating that professional drivers can adapt to prolonged night shifts and may be able to learn to drive without decreased performance under high levels of sleepiness. However, very little research has been conducted to compare professionals and non-professionals when controlling for time driven and time of day.

Method The aim of this study was to use a driving simulator to investigate whether professional drivers are more resistant to sleep deprivation than non-professional drivers. Differences in the development of sleepiness (self-reported, physiological and behavioral) during driving was investigated in 11 young professional and 15 non-professional drivers.

Results Professional drivers self-reported significantly lower sleepiness while driving a simulator than non-professional drivers. In contradiction, they showed longer blink durations and more line crossings, both of which are indicators of sleepiness. They also drove faster. The reason for the discrepancy in the relation between the different sleepiness indicators for the two groups could be due to more experience to sleepiness among the professional drivers or possibly to the faster speed, which might unconsciously have been used by the professionals to try to counteract sleepiness.

Conclusion Professional drivers self-reported significantly lower sleepiness while driving a simulator than non-professional drivers. However, they showed longer blink durations and more line crossings, both of which are indicators of sleepiness, and they drove faster.