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PLoS One. 2014 Dec 10;9(12):e114102. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0114102. eCollection 2014.

Complaints of Poor Sleep and Risk of Traffic Accidents: A Population-Based Case-Control Study.

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Université de Bordeaux, Sommeil, Attention et Neuropsychiatrie, USR SANPSY 3413, F-33000 Bordeaux, France; CNRS, SANPSY, USR 3413, F-33000 Bordeaux, France; CHU Pellegrin, F-33076 Bordeaux, France.
INSERM U897, ISPED, Equipe PPCT, Université de Bordeaux, F-33000 Bordeaux, France.
IFSTTAR, TS2, UMRESTTE, F-69500 Bron, France et Université Lyon 1, F-69008 Lyon, France.
Stress Research Institute, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden.



This study aimed to determine the sleepiness-related factors associated with road traffic accidents.


A population based case-control study was conducted in 2 French agglomerations. 272 road accident cases hospitalized in emergency units and 272 control drivers matched by time of day and randomly stopped by police forces were included in the study. Odds ratios were calculated for the risk of road traffic accidents.


As expected, the main predictive factor for road traffic accidents was having a sleep episode at the wheel just before the accident (OR 9.97, CI 95%: 1.57-63.50, p<0.05). The increased risk of traffic accidents was 3.35 times higher in subjects who reported very poor quality sleep during the last 3 months (CI 95%: 1.30-8.63, p<0.05), 1.69 times higher in subjects reporting sleeping 6 hours or fewer per night during the last 3 months (CI 95%: 1.00-2.85, p<0.05), 2.02 times higher in subjects reporting symptoms of anxiety or nervousness in the previous day (CI 95%: 1.03-3.97, p<0.05), and 3.29 times higher in subjects reporting taking more than 2 medications in the last 24 h (CI 95%: 1.14-9.44, p<0.05). Chronic daytime sleepiness measured by the Epworth Sleepiness Scale, expressed heavy snoring and nocturnal leg movements did not explain traffic accidents.


Physicians should be attentive to complaints of poor sleep quality and quantity, symptoms of anxiety-nervousness and/or drug consumption in regular car drivers.

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