Introduction Sleepiness has been shown to be a risk factor for road crashes in high-income countries, but has received little attention in low- and middle-income countries. We examined the prevalence of sleepiness and sleep-related disorders among drivers of four-wheel motor vehicles in Fiji.
Method Using a two-stage cluster sampling roadside survey conducted over 12 months, we recruited a representative sample of people driving four-wheel motor vehicles on the island of Viti Levu, Fiji. A structured interviewer-administered questionnaire sought self-report information on driver characteristics including sleep-related measures.
Results The 752 motor vehicle drivers recruited (84% response rate) were aged 17–75 years, with most driving in Viti Levu undertaken by male subjects (93%), and those identifying with Indian (70%) and Fijian (22%) ethnic groups. Drivers who reported that they were not fully alert accounted for 17% of driving, while a further 1% of driving was undertaken by those who reported having difficulty staying awake or feeling sleepy. A quarter of the driving time among 15–24-year-olds included driving while sleepy or not fully alert, with a similar proportion driving while chronically sleep deprived (ie, with less than five nights of adequate sleep in the previous week=27%). Driving while acutely or chronically sleep deprived was generally more common among Fijians compared with Indians.
Conclusions Driving while not fully alert is relatively common in Fiji. Sleepiness while driving may be an important contributor to road traffic injuries in this and other low- and middle-income countries.
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