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Gender Differences in Prevalence of Sleepy Driving Among Young Drivers in Saudi Arabia.

INTRODUCTION: Sleepy driving is associated with Motor Vehicles Accidents (MVAs). In Saudi Arabia, previous studies have addressed this association among men only. Therefore, the aim of this study was to compare the prevalence of sleepy driving and associated factors between genders.

METHODS: In a cross-sectional study design, we offered a self-administered online questionnaire to 3272 participants from different regions of Saudi Arabia. The questionnaire included 46 questions covering sociodemographics, driving habits, sleeping habits, Epworth Sleepiness Scale, and Berlin questionnaire to assess the risk of sleep apnea. Univariable and multivariable logistic regression analyses were used to determine the significant factors associated with self-reported sleepy driving, defined as operating a motor vehicle while feeling sleepy in the preceding six months.

RESULTS: Of the 3272 invitees, 2958 (90%) completed the questionnaire, of which 1414 (48%) were women. The prevalence of sleepy driving in the preceding six months was 42% (men: 50% and women 32%, p<0.001). Specifically, participants reported the following: 12% had had to stop their vehicle due to sleepiness (men: 16.2% and women 7%, p<0.001), 12.4% reported near-miss accidents (men: 16.2% and women: 8.2%, p<0.001) and 4.2% reported an accident due to sleepiness (men: 4.3% and women: 4%, p=0.645). In multivariable analysis, being male, younger age, use of any type of medications, shift working, working more than 12 hours per day, driving duration of 3-5 hours per day, driving experience of more than 2 years, excessive daytime sleepiness and risk of having obstructive sleep apnea were all associated with increased likelihood of falling asleep while driving in the preceding 6 months.

CONCLUSION: Sleepy driving and MVA are prevalent in both gender but was higher in men. Future public health initiatives should particularly focus on men, since men reported a greater likelihood of both sleep-related MVA and "near miss" events.

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