Behaviours – Fatigue

Information Day on Driver Fatigue

Here is a description of the talks given during the 2nd Information Day on Driver Fatigue organized by the SAAQ.

What is the Information Day on Driver Fatigue?

In November 2014, we organized the 2nd edition of the Information Day on Driver Fatigue, whose goal was to provide information and tools to outreach workers and those who are in contact with clienteles likely to be affected by this important road safety issue.

Target audience

The talks given during the day were intended for everyone who has a role to play in preventing accidents related to driver fatigue.

The talks were also relevant for occupational health and safety professionals, since lack of sleep interferes not only driving, but with the performance of many other tasks. In the long term, lack of sleep can have detrimental impacts on health. The day was also intended for individuals interested in public health issues.


Driver Fatigue: A Major Public Health Issue

PDF presentation: La fatigue au volant : un problème majeur de santé publique (PDF, 1.5 MB)This file does not meet Web accessibility standards. (in French only)


Charles Morin, Université Laval

  • Full professor, École de psychologie, Université Laval
  • Researcher, Institut universitaire de santé mentale de Québec
  • Director, Centre d'étude des troubles du sommeil, Université Laval


This talk was a discussion of driver fatigue as a public health issue. It included an overview of the warning signs of fatigue, its main causes and consequences and its impacts on road safety.

Lack of sleep was mentioned among the aggravating factors. Some corrective and preventive measures for fighting fatigue and raising public awareness were presented.

Useful information

One out of every 5 drivers admits to having been drowsy at the wheel during the past year

It therefore comes as no surprise that fatigue is a determining factor in 20% of fatal traffic accidents in Québec. This statistic comes from a road safety survey conducted by the Traffic Injury Research Foundation (2012).

Atypical Work Schedules, Fatigue and Road Safety

PDF presentation: Horaires de travail atypiques, fatigue et sécurité routière (PDF, 1.1 MB)This file does not meet Web accessibility standards. (in French only)


Diane B. Boivin, M.D., Ph.D., Douglas Institute

  • Full professor, McGill University Department of Psychiatry
  • Director, Centre for Study and Treatment of Circadian Rhythms, Douglas Institute


Atypical work schedules, including night shifts and rotating schedules, negatively affect sleep and adaptation by the biological (circadian) clock.

This talk discussed the way these factors can cause fatigue and have an impact on road safety.

Fatigue Management in the Transportation Industry

PDF presentation: La gestion de la fatigue dans l'industrie du transport routier (PDF, 292 KB)This file does not meet Web accessibility standards. (in French only)


Pierre Thiffault, researcher, Transport Canada


From 2008 to 2011, Pierre Thiffault led a working group at the Canadian Council of Motor Transport Administrators (CCMTA) on the role of human factors in collisions involving heavy vehicles.

The group's work has highlighted the impacts of fatigue, distraction and risk-taking as the main factors leading to crashes.

The group's final report details these problems and the main risk factors present in the industry and proposes potential solutions.

Sleep, Driver Fatigue and Young Drivers

PDF presentation: Sommeil, fatigue au volant et jeunes conducteurs (PDF, 1.6 MB)This file does not meet Web accessibility standards. (in French only)


Roger Godbout, full professor, Département de psychiatrie, Université de Montréal


This talk was a discussion of the functions of sleep and its typical characteristics as well as the main methods for assessing sleep and fatigue.

An overview of the scientific literature was presented to explain the interaction between nighttime sleep and daytime performance in the general population. The results of recent studies on driver fatigue among young drivers were analyzed in more detail.

Sleep Apnea and Driving a Heavy Vehicle

Preliminary results of a study whose aim was to assess the effects of combined treatment involving weight loss and continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) ventilation on driving performance.

PDF presentation: Fatigue et conduite de véhicules lourds (PDF, 3.0 MB)This file does not meet Web accessibility standards. (in French only)


Normand Teasdale, full professor, Département de kinésiologie, Université Laval


Sleep apnea considerably increases the risk of traffic accidents. Left untreated, associated symptoms tend to worsen over time.

Compared to healthy individuals, those suffering from untreated sleep apnea are more vulnerable to the effects of lack of sleep. When driving, these people display greater lateral variability of the vehicle and slower reaction times when braking.

Obesity is one of the most significant factors associated with and affecting the severity of sleep apnea. It is estimated that more than 50% of professional drivers are overweight. The behaviours and driving strategies adopted on the road by these drivers, both by those who suffer from sleep apnea and those who don't, were presented, as were results illustrating behaviours caused by fatigue and distraction.

Detecting Driver Fatigue and Identifying Drowsiness Warning Signs

PDF presentation: Détection de la fatigue au volant et identification des signes précurseurs de la somnolence (PDF, 3.1 MB)This file does not meet Web accessibility standards. (in French only)


Jacques Bergeron, Université de Montréal

  • Director, Laboratoire de simulation de conduite, Université de Montréal
  • Full professor, Département de psychologie, Université de Montréal


This talk presented an overview of the main findings of scientific studies on the behaviours associated with driver fatigue and their impacts on driving (difficulty maintaining a straight trajectory, involuntary changes in speed, etc.). It also examined individual vulnerability to drowsiness at the wheel and disparities between psychopsychological measures of alertness and drivers' perceptions regarding their own level of alertness.

The evolution and development of smart transportation systems and warning devices designed for the early detection of decreased driver alertness and the effectiveness, reliability and acceptability of these systems was also discussed.

Smart Vehicles and Automated Driving

PDF presentation: Véhicules intelligents et à conduite automatisée (PDF, 318 KB)This file does not meet Web accessibility standards. (in French only)


Johanne St-Cyr, Vice-President of Road Safety, Société de l'assurance automobile du Québec


This was a presentation of new road safety approaches to prevent crashes related to fatigue and distraction.

Decreased alertness brought on by fatigue or distraction is a contributing factor in many accidents that occur on Québec and North American roads.

Many efforts have been made to make drivers aware of the consequences of driver fatigue and distraction and, increasingly over the past years, for vehicles to fulfil a greater active role in preventing and avoiding crashes.

Some universities and businesses have been developing new active safety features and automated driving systems to reduce crashes associated with decreased driver alertness.