Discussion Guide

Drowsy Driving Focus Groups
Shift Workers
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I. Self-Introductions and Warm up (10 minutes)

  1. What is a focus group? What will be discussed this evening.

  2. How focus groups work. . .

  3. Microphones, recording, assurance of privacy

  4. Observers behind the one-way mirror

  5. Role of the moderator:

  6. Ground rules

  7. Self-introductions: tell us your name, what you do, the kind of hours you work, and briefly tell us where you went on a long driving trip during the past year.

II. Sleep habits (20 minutes)

  1. Tell me about you sleep habits. What is the usual amount of sleep that you get each night? How much sleep do you think you need?

  2. How important is being well-rested to you? How important is it you in relationship to other things in your life?

    (PROBE: In relation to having fun? Spending time with your family? Spending time with your friends? Getting work done? Are there things you would be willing to give up sleep for? Your health? Your safety? The safety of your family? The safety of your friends?)

  3. How does working at night or on rotating shifts affect your sleep? Your performance on the job? Your performance in other things throughout your day? How do you balance sleep and other things in your life? How much control do you think you have regarding sleep?

    (If not mentioned here, probe if they are concerned about their lack of sleep and if it affects their driving.)

  4. When do you sleep (before or after work)? What are the reasons you sleep then? What are some factors that prevent you from getting regular, quality sleep?

    (PROBE: How does your work, your family or your social activities factor into deciding how much sleep you need or get?)

  5. Do you ever push yourself to stay awake when you know you are tired and should rest? What do you do to stay awake? When?

    (PROBE: What are some of the reasons you do it?)

  6. What or who could motivate you to get more sleep regularly?

    (PROBE: Is there anyone in a position to influence your sleep right now? Your employer? Your friends? Your spouse? Yourself?)

  7. What kinds of things could that person say or do to make you think about changing your sleep behavior?

    (PROBE: What could that person say or do to actually make you change your sleep behavior? Tell you your health is in danger? Your safety?)

  8. How do you and your friends/co-workers view being sleep deprived?

    (PROBE: Sign of commitment? Extraordinary ability? Harmful?)

III. Driving while Fatigued or Sleepy (60 minutes)


  1. How big of a problem do you think fatigue or drowsy driving is on the roads today? Tell me what you think are the likely situations in which people have motor vehicle crashes due to fatigue or drowsy driving?

    (PROBE: What are the characteristics of these crashes? How can these type of crashes be avoided?)

  2. What do you think are your chances of being in a crash as a result of drowsy driving?

    (PROBE: Is it greater or less then being involved in an alcohol-related crash? Greater or less than being crash as a result of aggressive driving, i.e., someone cut you off, ran a red light, stop sign, tailgating?)

  3. Has anyone (or know someone who has) been involved in an automobile crash or a "near miss" crash because you (they) fell asleep at the wheel? Describe the situation.

    (PROBE: Did this experience change your (their) behavior at all? If so, how/what do you (they) now do differently? Do you think about this experience when you are getting behind the wheel sleepy or drowsy?)

  4. Do you think about times you have driven while feeling drowsy after the fact? Honestly, what did you think about those occasions in retrospect? How did these occasions change your behavior?

  5. How do you think being involved in a crash that resulted in permanent injury would affect your life?

    (PROBE: Yourself? Family/loved ones? Your social activities? Job/career? Goals for the future?)

  6. When you know you will be driving, what advance plans do you make for how you will handle it if you become very tired while driving?

  7. Is this different than if you are going on a short driving trip as opposed to a long driving trip? If so, how do you prepare for a long driving trip?

    (PROBE: Do you get extra sleep the night before your long trip? Do you share driving responsibilities? Do you take rests? Drink coffee?)

  8. What would encourage or convince you not to drive when you are sleepy?

    (PROBE: The thought being in a car crash and losing your life? Putting your health in jeopardy? Putting someone else's safety or life in jeopardy? Losing your job? Not performing well in your job? Not performing well in other areas of you life, i.e., as a parent, a spouse, a friend?)

IV. Countermeasures (20 minutes)

  1. What in your lives leads you to driving drowsy (i.e., what are the pros of driving drowsy or the forces in your life that promote it?) (List on board) What are the cons against drowsy driving? (List on board)

  2. What are some things you believe would be helpful to reduce your chances for falling asleep behind the wheel?

    (PROBE and describe if not mentioned:

    • another passenger in the car with you
    • pulling off the road and sleeping, or stopping at a motel to rest
    • pulling off the road at specially market exits (e.g., free coffee, soft drinks)
    • etting enough regular/prior sleep
    • drinking coffee
    • taking a nap)

  3. What are your thoughts on these various countermeasures for drowsy driving?

    (PROBE: Do you think they will work? How do you think these suggestions could be implemented? What are the real reasons you don't do this now if you find yourself drowsy behind the wheel?)

  4. What would you think about using a device in your car that alerted you when you began to nod off? (example: buzzing noise when your head drops, monitor that watches your eyes and alerts you when they close for too long?)

    (PROBE: Would that be effective? What are some reasons you would or would not pay to have such a device in your car?)

  5. Would your response be the same or different if the device was outside the car (e.g., rumple strips or grooves in the shoulder of the highway to alert that you are going off the road?)

    (PROBE: How would this type of device be effective? Not effective?)

  6. How many warnings would it take to get you (realistically) to pull off the road and get some sleep?

  7. What are some things your employer could do to reduce the chances of employees driving drowsy? Where/how would you expect to receive information from your employer regarding drowsy driving? Is the workplace an appropriate site for this type of information?

    (PROBE: What kind of support system changes can your employer make to help your sleep/driving habits? Personal communication, brochures or posters at the work.)

  8. What are some reasons you think they would or would not implement some of these suggestions?

  9. At this point of the discussion tonight, what do you think about drowsy driving?

    (PROBE: Is it a problem in your workplace? Is it a problem for you? Is it a problem for your coworkers?)

  10. How do you think the public could be better informed about this problem? What would make your suggestions effective?

    (PROBE: Fatigue-related impairment similar to alcohol-related impairment.)

V. Media channels (10 minutes)

  1. Has anyone been exposed to information regarding drowsy or fatigue related driving?

    (PROBE: How did you hear it? On TV, radio, at work, poster, brochure, articles in newspaper or magazine? What did remember about what you see or heard?)

  2. How effective was this method (medium) to get information to you?

    (PROBE: What would of been more effective?)

  3. Outside the workplace, where would you expect to see or hear safety message related to the dangers drowsy driving? When would be the best time to get information to you?

    (PROBE: How would this be an effective means to get information to you? How would it be not effective? What would be the best way to reach you? Mass media (TV), radio, posters, newspapers, magazines, billboards, workplace seminars, brochures,etc?)

  4. If you had just one thing motivational message to say to people about drowsy driving, what would that message be? How would that message be communicated?

VI. Thank you and close.

Pass out participant information sheet and pose any questions from the backroom if there is time.

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