Road accidents in France are on the rise: among the causes, fatigue and drowsiness at the wheel are the most important risk factors.
Between December 2016 and November 2017, there were 58,984 personal injuries and 78,135 casualties on the road. This represents, compared to the previous year over the same period, 1,527 additional accidents (+ 2.7%) and 2,217 additional victims (+ 2.9%). Numbers far too alarming not to react. Studies show that 27% of fatal accidents are due to drowsiness and fatigue 2. They represent the two leading causes of death on the road, ahead of speed and alcohol. A quarter of French people complain about lack of sleep and 62% of them report having sleep disorders. This could come, among other things, from the massive use of new technologies (both in the workplace and at home in the evening), which deteriorate the quality of sleep.
Thus, the lack of rest has many harmful consequences, especially on health. Road users often have difficulty assessing this risk and its consequences. Driving in a state of fatigue is one of the riskiest driving behaviors and its dangerousness is probably still underestimated. Most motorists think they know the solutions to fight to fall asleep at the wheel, but few know that the nap is the only effective way to fight against this plague.
A lot of prevention, few solutions
In France, there are currently 366 service areas and 637 rest areas 5. Only 19 hotels are located in these areas. This can be explained in particular by an environment, not at all adapted to hotel operations. Little by little, France and its actors are becoming aware of the danger of driving fatigue and the impact it can have on drivers. Several initiatives are emerging, but this remains very much in line with prevention: very few adequate and sustainable solutions. Indeed, France is setting up numerous campaigns to raise awareness of the dangers of the road, but sleepiness remains poorly represented, especially in the face of lack of specific studies on the subject.
Today, a number of private actors are trying to implement different solutions, at their own level. In order to provide concrete answers, beyond strict prevention. For example, some automakers have embarked on developing options to detect the first signs of fatigue. This is still conceptual and under development. There are also more and more connected objects that are designed to warn the driver as soon as the first signs of fatigue appear. All these developments are still unaffordable and aimed at a reduced target but could ultimately become one of the best responses to fight drowsiness at the wheel. Then, other entities such as associations, foundations or large companies from various sectors, implement specific actions. These last ones remain punctual and very often on particular occasions, such as departures on holidays.
Our society is constantly evolving: the digital transformation, coupled with the growth of new technologies, makes it possible to imagine new solutions. French companies and especially start-ups are very interested in this scourge. At the same time, they strive to provide support and assistance by developing innovative and relevant solutions to address them. Thus, they become major players in the participation in improving the sleep quality of the French. At present, there are interesting initiatives such as technological micro-hotels to ensure an optimal nap and intended to be installed on the motorway areas, glasses connected to prevent drowsiness or even applications. to stay awake.
Currently, there is a strong development in terms of prevention but solutions are rare. However, the new awareness is noticeable and everyone is working hard to counter this scourge of drowsiness at the wheel. It takes time, but as the numbers indicate, we must act quickly. It is necessary today to make things happen in order to see as soon as possible a considerable impact on the alarming figures related to road safety.