Young drivers' perceptions of culpability of sleep-deprived versus drinking drivers

Lela Williams, David R. Davies, Kris Thiele, Judith R. Davidson, Alistair W. MacLean

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Introduction: Sleep-deprived driving can be as dangerous as alcohol-impaired driving, however, little is known about attitudes toward sleep-deprived drivers. This study examined the extent to which young drivers regard sleep-deprived compared to drinking drivers as culpable for a crash, and how their perceptions of driving while in these conditions differ. Method: University student participants (N = 295; M = 20.4 years, SD = 1.3; 81% women) were randomly assigned to read one of five fatal motor-vehicle crash scenarios, which differed by aspects of the driver's condition. Culpability ratings for the drinking driver were higher than those for the sleep-deprived driver. Results: Qualitative findings revealed that driving while sleep-deprived was viewed as understandable, and driving after drinking was viewed as definitely wrong. The dangers of sleep-deprived driving remain under-recognized.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)115-122
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Safety Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2012


  • attitudes
  • crash
  • drowsy driving
  • fatigue
  • sleepiness

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Safety, Risk, Reliability and Quality


Dive into the research topics of 'Young drivers' perceptions of culpability of sleep-deprived versus drinking drivers'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this