Driver fatigue puts lives at risk

NEW research shows nearly half of motorists are still putting lives at risk by driving while tired.Road safety charity Brake carried out a survey which found that 45 per cent of drivers have got behind the wheel in the last year after having less than five hours' sleep.

By Colin Adwent

NEW research shows nearly half of motorists are still putting lives at risk by driving while tired.

Road safety charity Brake carried out a survey which found that 45 per cent of drivers have got behind the wheel in the last year after having less than five hours' sleep.

And 10pc of the 1,000 people surveyed last year drive on less than five hours' sleep at least once a month.


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Brake chief executive Mary Williams said: "We found drivers were prepared to admit to having less than five hours' sleep and that is an extraordinarily shocking finding.

"Today's results are extremely disturbing. Twenty per cent of crashes on monotonous roads such as motorways are caused by tired drivers.

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"Drivers need to wake up to the fact that tiredness and driving are a potentially lethal combination. If you risk getting behind the wheel not having had enough sleep, you risk killing yourself and other innocent road users.

"If you intend to drive it is vital that you have a good night's sleep and take the necessary steps to combat tiredness on long journeys."

The Brake survey was released as a Government campaign warning drivers of the dangers of tiredness was relaunched.

The charity has warned drivers to make sure they get enough sleep before setting off on a journey and offered advice to people who feel sleepy while driving.

Brake advises motorists to take a break at least every two hours and make sure these breaks are planned into the journey time.

The survey backs up research carried out by academics that showed that lack of sleep is seriously detrimental to the ability to drive safely.

Researchers at Loughborough University's Sleep Research Centre show after only five hours' sleep drivers have only a one in 10 chance of staying fully awake on a lengthy journey. If you do drive tired, research shows that it is impossible to stop yourself nodding off at the wheel.

Professor Jim Horne said: "If these drivers realised that by driving while tired they are just as impaired as if they were well over the legal drink-drive

alcohol limit, then they might have second thoughts."

Nigel Charlesworth, spokesman for motoring organisation Green Flag Motoring Assistance, which commissioned the survey, said: "Despite tiredness being a major cause of road deaths, the research demonstrates that a significant number of drivers still underestimate the dangers.

"We hope these shocking results will act as a wake-up call for drivers to realise that driving while tired puts their own and other road users' lives at risk, and is in reality just as unacceptable and dangerous as drink or drug driving."

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