The potential dangers associated with falling asleep behind the wheel are obvious. Nevertheless, 20% of Canadian drivers surveyed in 2004 by the Traffic Injury Research Foundation (TIRF) reported that they have “nodded off” or fallen asleep at least once in the past twelve months when they were driving. A recent survey of American drivers conducted by the National Sleep Foundation (2002) reported a similar finding.
This translates into a problem that is anything but inconsequential. When applied to the entire population of licensed drivers, it indicates that an estimated 4.1 million Canadians have fallen asleep or nodded off at least momentarily while driving within the past twelve months.
Falling asleep at the wheel is more commonly reported by males than females.
Whereas 28% of male drivers report having nodded off while driving in the past year, only 13% of females report having done so.
Falling asleep at the wheel also differs as a function of age. Indeed, over 1/3 (35%) of the drivers between the ages of 20 and 24 report nodding off or falling asleep while driving in the past year.
Among drivers aged 16 to 19, 28% reported that they had nodded off or fallen asleep at the wheel. Only 6% of drivers 65 years of age and over report having nodded off or fallen asleep while driving in the past year.
(Source: Traffic Injury Research Foundation: 2005)