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driving when tired

Driving tired can be fatal

1 in 5 accidents on major roads are caused by tiredness

Drunk, drugged and ill drivers pose a danger to themselves and others that's fairly well understood, but tired drivers, though often ignored as a risk, are every bit as dangerous.

The traditional image is of someone driving late at night, possibly on the way to or from a holiday, but these days, tiredness is often an issue with people driving for work – more often because of hours driven rather than the time of day.

If you spend the week working away from home or have just flown back into the country, you might also be susceptible to sleep related accidents.

According to official, police recorded accident data, fatigue’s a factor in 2% of all injury accidents, but some studies have suggested that 20% of accidents on major roads can be attributed to tiredness.

Motorway at night

If you’re driving a long distance:

  • Don't drive for more than 8 hours in a day.
  • Take regular fifteen minute breaks in journeys over three hours.
  • Aim to stop every two hours or so, especially if you're not used to driving long distances.
  • If you feel at all sleepy, stop in a safe place. Don’t stop on a motorway hard shoulder.
  • The best way to counter sleepiness is to drink two cups of caffeinated coffee and to take a short nap of at least 15 minutes - check for parking restrictions before you do so.
  • Plan journeys so that you can take breaks, allowing for an overnight stay if necessary. Even experienced HGV drivers are prevented from driving more than 9 hours in a day or working for over 13 hours in a day. Most car drivers are nowhere near as used to driving for this long.
  • Don't start a long journey if you’re tired.
  • Heavy meals can make you sleepy.
  • Driving at times when you would normally be asleep brings extra risk, particularly the early morning.
  • Strenuous exercise before driving can also have a bad effect - especially for older people.

Driving for work

If you're a company driver you'll know how you can feel pressured into breaking guidelines to meet deadlines.

Most employers will have a road safety policy which should lay down rules to help prevent fatigue-related accidents.

31 January 2017

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