The shocking figure is more than twice as high as the number of drivers who don’t drive for work but who say they have fallen asleep in the past year, which is still an alarmingly high one in 25 drivers. Nodding off for just a second or two at the wheel can kill: traveling at 60mph on a motorway (one of the main types of road where fatigue commonly occurs), a driver covers 27 metres (88 feet) per second.
One of the main causes of nodding off at the wheel is insufficient sleep the night before. The research has found that people who drive for work are more likely to drive after insufficient sleep. Half of the people who drive for work who were surveyed say they sometimes drive after less than five hours’ sleep, compared to just over a third (35%) of people who drive only outside work. Research shows that if you drive after less than five hours’ sleep, you have just a one in ten chance of staying fully awake on a lengthy journey.
Department for Transport figures estimate that six people die each week in crashes caused by tired drivers. Tired driving crashes tend to be high-speed, as drivers do not brake, meaning the risk of death or serious injury is greater than in some other types of crashes.
With the introduction of the Corporate Manslaughter Act approaching (Apr. 6), employers who fail to ensure their employees drive safely during work time, leading to a fatal crash, will face a greater risk of prosecution. Brake is urging all companies with employees who drive for work (including professional drivers and reps or managers who drive to meetings or appointments) to ensure they have robust systems in place to prevent tired driving. This includes having a thorough safe driving policy, setting realistic schedules and ensuring employees are aware of the dangers of driving while tired. (Tyres & Accessories/Staffordshire, U.K.)