Objective and methodology
ESRA (E-Survey of Road users’ Attitudes) is a joint initiative of road safety institutes, research centres, public services, and private sponsors from all over the world. The aim is to collect and analyse comparable data on road safety performance, in particular road safety culture and behaviour of road users. The ESRA data are used as a basis for a large set of road safety indicators. These provide scientific evidence for policy making at national and international levels.
Vias institute in Brussels (Belgium) initiated and coordinates ESRA, in cooperation with eleven core group partners (BASt, BFU, CTL, IATSS, IFSTTAR, ITS, KFV, NTUA, PRP, SWOV, TIRF). At the heart of ESRA is a jointly developed questionnaire survey, which is translated into national language versions. The themes covered include self-declared behaviour, attitudes and opinions on unsafe traffic behaviour, enforcement experiences and support for policy measures. The survey addresses different road safety topics (e.g. driving under the influence of alcohol, drugs and medicines, speeding, distraction) and targets car occupants, motorcycle and moped drivers, cyclists and pedestrians.
The present report is based on the second edition of this global survey, which was conducted in 2018 (ESRA2_2018). In total this survey collected data from more than 35.000 road users across 32 countries. An overview of the ESRA initiative and the project-results is available on: www.esranet.eu.
This thematic ESRA report on driving fatigue describes the rate of self-declared fatigued driving, the personal acceptability of fatigued driving, and the perception of driving fatigue as an accident cause amongst road users in 32 countries. It includes comparisons amongst the participating countries as well as results in relation to age and gender.
Below for each research question the major findings are presented.
What is the prevalence of fatigued driving? And what are differences?
- In most countries one fifth to one quarter of car drivers report to have driven while having trouble keeping eyes open in the past 30 days.
- In Europe, North America and Africa, self-declared fatigued driving rates are (considerably) higher for male drivers than for female drivers.
- In Europe and North America, the self-declared fatigued driving rates tend to decrease with increasing age, in Asia-Oceania and in Africa this age pattern is not found (or even reversed).
What is the personal acceptability of fatigued driving? And what are differences?
- In all participating countries worldwide less than 3% of road users find fatigued driving personally acceptable showing that road users personal norms reject this behaviour.
- In Europe, North America and Asia-Oceania, the personal acceptability of fatigued driving is (slightly) higher among the younger age groups. Surprisingly, in Africa the personal acceptability is highest (15% amongst the oldest age group).
- The gender differences in personal acceptability of fatigued driving are quite small.
What is the perception of fatigued driving as accident cause? And what are differences?
- In all countries worldwide a large majority of road users perceive tired driving as a frequent cause of accidents.
- European road users most frequently perceive tired driving as a frequent crash cause (74%), with lower rates reported amongst road users in North America (69%), Africa (64%) and Asia-Oceania (53%).
- In Europe and North America, the perception of tired driving as a frequent crash cause is more prevalent among older age groups (55-64; 65+) than younger age group whereas this age pattern is not found in Asia-Oceania and Africa.
What factors are related to the personal acceptability of fatigued driving? And to the perception of fatigued driving as accident cause?
- The most important variables that explain the differences in answers to personal acceptability of fatigued driving are: age, education level and personal involvement in accidents.
- The most important variables that explain differences in answers to perception of fatigued driving as crash cause are age, gender and frequency of car use.
What factors are related to self-declared fatigued driving?
- Drivers who feel that it is acceptable to drive being so sleepy that you have trouble keeping your eyes open are 6.5 times more likely to drive when they are tired
- Compared to male drivers, the odds of driving when tired for women are reduced by 47%.
- Compared to drivers aged 55+, the odds of driving when tired are increased by 30% for drivers aged between 18 to 34 years, and by 8% for drivers aged 35 to 54 years
- Compared to drivers with a Master’s degree or higher, the odds of self-declared fatigued driving decrease by 51% for drivers with secondary education level, by 46% for drivers with a bachelor’s degree or similar and by 50% for drivers with primary education level or lower
- Drivers who think it is acceptable to drive being so sleepy that you have trouble keeping your eyes open are 6.5 times more likely to drive while tired.
- Drivers who believe that fatigued driving is the cause of a road crash involving car frequently have a 40% reduced odds of self-declared fatigued driving
- Drivers who live in urban areas have a 29% decreased odds of self-declared fatigued driving compared to drivers who live in semi-urban and rural areas.
- In Europe, drivers in Austria, Finland and Greece have the highest odds ratios for self-declared fatigued driving (OR 1.5 to 1.9).
- In Europe, drivers in Italy, Serbia and United Kingdom have the lowest odds ratios for self-declared fatigued driving (OR 0.6 - 0.7).
- Outside Europe, drivers in Japan, Republic of South Korea and Egypt have higher odds ratios than the reference category for driving while tired (OR 1.7 to 2.0).
- The self-report data in ESRA2 on fatigued driving confirm data from other sources that fatigued driving is one of the major problems for road safety worldwide. The high prevalence of self-declared fatigue driving warrants serious attention of road safety policy makers.
- To prevent driving fatigue attention should be payed to create further measures in the fields of legislation, road infrastructure, education and campaigns, the implementation of safety culture and fatigue management programs in companies.
- Within a company context, studies have shown that an active safety culture and fatigue management are the best measures to address professional driver fatigue. The safety culture should also be a ‘just culture’ where drivers can be open about problems of driving fatigue without fear of sanctions.
- Awareness-raising campaigns on fatigued driving should provide helpful and clear instructions how to prevent the problem and how to react to the problem in a real situation.
- Drivers can be advised to familiarise themselves with fatigue detection systems in their vehicles and to take warning signals by these systems seriously. However, prime responsibility for prevention of driver fatigue rests with the driver herself and drowsiness detection systems are only a (less than perfect) aid for keeping this responsibility.
- Besides education and campaigns and safety culture programs, the implementation of rumble strips on major roadways (motorways and rural roads) is a proven safety measure against fatigued driving.
The ESRA initiative has demonstrated the feasibility and the added value of joint data collection on road safety performance by partner organizations all over the world. The intention is to repeat this initiative on a triennial basis, retaining a core set of questions in every wave. In this way, ESRA produces consistent and comparable road safety performance indicators that can serve as an input for national road safety policies and for international monitoring systems on road safety performance.