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Date data collection started: 12 July 2010

Date data collection ended :30 August 2010
Date report done:1 September 2010

Both male and female Mauritian drivers , most of them engaged in the labour force.
22% of respondents are shift workers.
It can be safely assumed that most of the respondents are aged between 20 and 60 years
Though a majority of them are computer literate, allowance have been made for non
computer literate citizens through face to face interviews.

Sample size:
948 respondents.(response rate around 10% as more than 9000 questionnaires estimated
to have been emailed)

Methods used for survey :

Individual questionnaire consisting of 6 multiple choice questions.
87% of questionnaires were emailed to individuals and answered online through survey
provider Kwik Survey. The online survey does not allow an individual to answer a
questionnaire twice from his mailbox. Duplication therefore avoided.
13% of questionnaires were answered during Face to face interviews.
522 respondents answered questionnaire set in English (Appendix 1)
305 respondents answered questionnaire set in French (Appendix 2)
120 respondents answered in face to face interviews in Creole as well as in French.

Author: Alain Jeannot

Driver’s fatigue is an internationally recognized road safety hazard.
Researchers in UK suggest that driver fatigue is not necessarily the result of
sustained long distance driving (road accidents in Mauritius ,an engineering
perspective Dec 2002 ).
Therefore our 2070 Km road network does not necessarily protect us from driver’s
More so ,our 374,000 strong fleet of vehicles contributes to traffic density making of
driving a more and more stressful activity.
Additionally modern life and increasing development in technology contribute to keep
people awake for longer hours.
According to “road accidents in Mauritius,an engineering perspective Dec 2002” In
2001 there were 21 fatal accidents involving a single vehicle leaving the road and
hitting a roadside object.
This type of accident represents 19 percent of the total fatal crashes locally(Road
accidents in Mauritius Dec2002) .
Although these accidents have not necessarily been associated solely with fatigue,
tiredness might have been a contributing factor.
The present survey aims at establishing the extent of driver’s fatigue locally.
Tiredness was successfully linked to drowsiness though other causes were identified.
Correlation between sleep and fatigue as well as relationship between shift work and
fatigue were also found.


1 Drowsiness prevalence among drivers

In the last 6 months, how often did you

feel drowsy while driving?

More than
Never felt once
drowsy More than once
43% once

once Never felt drowsy


Figure A

The above chart ,referred to as figure A, shows prevalence of drowsiness in drivers

population .It is noted that 57% claimed to have felt drowsy at least once in the last six
months .This matches survey research world-wide which suggests that over half of all private
drivers drive while being fatigued or drowsy at least once a year (SafetyNet (2009) Fatigue).

2 Reasons behind drowsiness

Reasons behind drowsiness

, Health , Unnown
concerns, reasons,
2% 6%
, Alcohol, Alcohol
Health concerns
, Tiredness, Unnown reasons

Figure B

As shown in figure B above ,88 % respondents claimed the main reason behind drowsiness was
tiredness .Therefore drowsiness was an appropriate marker to determine driver’s fatigue.
12 % Respondents also recognized Alcohol, Health concerns and unknown reasons to have
caused sleepiness.

3 Drivers fatigue indications and risks

Though tiredness is the main indicator for driver’s fatigue, it might also manifest itself through:
-slower reaction time ,reduced vigilance (Australian academy of science).
-Restlessness ,Boredom, aches and pains, sore or tired eyes and loss of concentration

3.1 Main risk of sleepiness

The greatest risk of sleepiness remains sleep itself. When driving during a 4 second,
microsleep, a car travelling at 100km/h will travel 111m while completely
out of the drivers control.

4 Causes of fatigue :

Lifestyle and nature of work are among the main causes of tiredness.

4.1 Lifestyle:
According to Australian academy of science ,Medical researchers suggest that 8 hours a night is
about the right amount for most people. Therefore individuals who reduce their sleep time in
favour of other activities are at risk of feeling tired.

This might explain why Mondays have the 2nd highest rate of accident among all days of the week
in Mauritius. Week ends being more associated with entertainment than rest for many a local,
some drivers might feel more fatigued than on other working days on that day as they might be
suffering from cumulative reduced sleep time on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

In the present survey respondents were classified under 4 categories to determine population
sleep pattern.
• 1st category : those who sleep time oscillate between 8 and 7 hours daily . 38%
respondents claimed to be in this group.
• 2nd category: those whose daily sleep time vary between 6 and 8 hours daily . 40% of
respondents identified themselves with this group.
• 3rd category ,which concerns 19% of respondents, regroups those who sleep for 5 to 6
hours daily.
• 4th category concerns 2% of respondents .They sleep for less than 5 Hours daily.
Comparative drowsiness prevalence among the three main categories revealed a clear
correlation between sleep time and tiredness.
As sleep time decreases so does the percentage of respondents who claim they have never felt
Similarly as sleep time decreases sleepiness incidence increases.
43% respondents who sleep between 7 and 8 Hours daily claimed they felt drowsy at least once
in last 6 months.
Comparatively 61% and 75% respondents from categories who sleep between 6 and 7 Hours and
between 5 and 6 hours respectively ,claimed they felt drowsy at least once .
This is clearly detailed and illustrated in the following pie charts referred to as figure C, figure D
and figure E.

Drowsiness prevalence among respondents who

sleep between 7and 8 Hrs

More than once

Morethan once
Once Never

Figure C


Never More than once

37% More than once

Figure D
Drowsiness prevalence among respondents
who sleep between 5 and 6 Hrs

25% Morethan
45% Once
Once Never

Figure E

4.2 Nature of work:

Nature of work also has an influence on our physiological and psychological state.Studies abroad
show that:

“most shift workers have at least occasional sleep disturbances, and approximately
one-third complain of fatigue (Åkerstedt, 1995a,1995b,1995c)”. “Night shift workers
typically get 1.5 fewer hours of sleep per 24 hours as compared with day workers. The
midnight to 8 a.m. shift carries the greatest risk of sleep disruption because it requires
workers to contradict circadian patterns in order to sleep during the day (Kessler,

The present survey reveals that 64% shift workers claimed to have felt drowsy at least
once against 55% among those who work during office hours .

There are therefore 9% more respondents feeling drowsy among shift workers than day
workers despite the fact that they have more or less similar sleeping patterns as shown
in Figures F and Figure G below.

Sle e p p atte r n s h ift w o r k e r s in h o u r s

36% Between7and8
Between 6and7

Figure F

39% Between7and8

Figure G

4.3 Other causes of sleepiness:


Research have identified the following additional potential causes of driver’s fatigue :

A)Bad quality of sleep.

B)Health reasons such as sleep apnea .Loud snoring can be symptomatic of obstructive sleep
apnea, a condition in which a person’s throat muscles relax and collapse during sleep, blocking
the intake of air. The sleeper stops breathing, sometimes for a minute or longer, then awakens
enough to gasp for air and falls back asleep. This sleep/gasp cycle can repeat itself hundreds of
times a night. Usually the sleeper does not remember these nighttime awakenings, but suffers
from extreme sleepiness during the daytime. An estimated 5 to 10 million Americans
have severe sleep apnea, but only 5 percent of those have been diagnosed with the
disorder (Dement and Mitler, 1993).

C) Regular consumption of alcohol because alcohol interferes with rapid eye movement sleep.It
may also cause wakefulness in the middle of ones sleep session.

D) Use of medication such as antihistamines and barbiturates.

E) Nervousness .

F) Regular disturbance in during sleep such as noise pollution.

G) Exposure to driving. According to AAA research paper ,“Why do people have drowsy driving
crashes” ,Sleep and fatigue crash drivers reported significantly higher average daily driving
times than either of the two comparison populations. Mean driving times were 3.1 hours a day
for sleep crash drivers, 2.7 hours a day for fatigue crash drivers, 2.6 hours a day for control
crash drivers, and only 1.4 hours a day for non-crash drivers.Considering time spent in traffic in
Mauritius it would not be wrong to assume that an average driver drives for around 2.5 Hours or
more a day.

5 Attitude towards drivers’ fatigue

Only 23 out of the 948 respondents considered that Driver’s fatigue was not an
important road safety issue.While 72% respondents declared it is a very important issue.

96% respondents claimed there is a need for more awareness on the issue of driver’s
fatigue in Mauritius.

6 Conclusion and recommendations.

-A need to educate further about the importance of appropriate sleep quantum and quality
of sleep is being felt as more than 20% Mauritian sleep for only 6 Hrs or less while a
significant number who get adequate rest still claim to feel tired.

-Preparing for a good sleep reveals to be important. Reduction in noise, avoiding late
screen exposure, avoiding alcohol intake, meditation and prayer and love making
contribute amongst others to good quality sleep.

-It is advisable that shift workers be more informed about fatigue management.

-Publicity campaigns may help educate the general public about the problem of driver
fatigue and possible countermeasures. Care should be taken to provide drivers with
clear and practical messages. It should be quite clear that drivers should prevent
fatigue rather than try to overcome it, and that they should stop driving when they feel
very tired.(Safety Net 2009 Fatigue)

- Drivers must be informed about fatigue management techniques. For example, recent
research at Flinders University has shown that subjects waking from a 10-minute nap
demonstrate an immediate significant increase in alertness and mental performance that
lasts for at least an hour afterwards. In contrast, a 30-minute nap fails to produce a
similar immediate increase (although it does induce an increase about 30 minutes after
the end of the nap). One useful practice for fatigued drivers, then, is to pull over and take
a short 'power' nap(Australian academy of science)



1. In the last 6 months ,how often did you feel drowsy while driving?
More than once
never felt drowsy
2. What made you feel sleepy?
Health concerns.
Unknown reasons.
3. For how long do U sleep on average everyday?
Between 7 and 8 hrs
Between 6 and 7 hrs
Between 5 and 6 hrs
Less than 5 hrs
4. Do U work on shift?
5. How important do you consider fatigue a road safety issue in Mauritius?

Very important
quite important
Not relevant to Mauritius .
6. Do U feel there is a need for more awareness on fatigue as a road safety

-Appendix 2 :

Sondage sur la fatigue au volant

1. Avez vous deja eu envie de dormir au volant durant les six derniers

Oui,plus d'une fois.

Oui ,une seule fois.
2. Si oui, pourquoi aviez vous envie de dormir? (Si non, passez a la
question suivante)

La fatigue.
Problemes de sante.
Raisons inconnues.
3. Pendant combien d'heures dormez vous chaque jour?
Entre 7 et 8 hrs
Entre 6 et 7 hrs
Entre 5 et 6 hrs
Moins de 5 hrs
4. Est ce qu'il vous arrive de travailler regulierement la nuit ?( comme dans
les "shift system")
5. La fatigue,est elle un facteur a risque important pour la securite routiere
a Maurice?

Oui,tres important
Oui, Important
Oui,Assez important
Non,pas important.
6. Faudrait il plus de sensibilisation sur le probleme de la fatigue au volant
a MAurice?