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Available Expert - Study finds similarity between impaired, sleep-deprived driving

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Queen's University psychologist Alistair MacLean is available to comment on a report, published by the American Automobile Association (AAA) Foundation for Traffic Safety, which found that even mild sleep deprivation nearly doubled the risk of a car crash - making sleep deprivation a comparable impairment as driving under the influence of alcohol. The report, which analyzed thousands of crashes resulting in injuries, found drivers were 1.3 times more likely to be involved in accidents if they missed an hour of sleep and 1.9 times more likely if they missed two of the seven hours recommended daily. 

"The similarity of the effects of sleep loss and alcohol on driving have been well established for a number of years, including in research published by Drs. Arnedt, Wilde, Munt and myself in 2000 and 2001," says Dr. MacLean. "As the AAA study points out, the dangers of sleepy driving are substantially underestimated by the general public but remain the second leading cause of crashes and fatalities after drugs and alcohol.  The AAA study is an important reminder for the holiday season when many people will be driving longer distances while getting less sleep."

Dr. MacLean is a professor emeritus in the Department of Psychology at Queen's University. His research focus is on understanding of how sleep loss and sleepiness affects skilled performance such as driving.

Dr. MacLean is available, for print and radio interviews, on Tuesday Dec. 6, 2016.

To arrange an interview, please contact communications officer Chris Armes (613-533-6000 ext. 77513 or chris.armes@queensu.ca) or Anne Craig (613-533-2877 or anne.craig@queensu.ca) in the Queen’s University News and Media Services Department in Kingston, Ont., Canada.

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