Don't drift off to death

AA highlights risk of falling asleep at the wheel

30 April 2009

20 per cent discount off food and drink at Moto services for AA members

Three motorists are likely to get killed and 30 seriously injured in the UK this weekend after falling asleep at the wheel, warns the AA, which has negotiated a discount for its members to encourage them to stop for a coffee.

With many drivers travelling further afield this Bank Holiday, the AA is appealing to motorists to take effective breaks after its research showed that around two-thirds of them fail to do so when travelling long distances1.

Main findings

  • Nearly a quarter (23%) of motorists only ever stop for a quick toilet break
  • One in 20 never stop at all
  • One in 10 motorists admit to nodding off at the wheel
  • 28% say they keep driving when they are tired to reach their destination
  • Nearly half (44%) often drive through the night, when travelling long distances, when their body rhythms are at a natural low point

Andrew Howard, Head of Road Safety at the AA, says: "The risk of death or serious injury from falling asleep at the wheel is greater as the grim fact is that these accidents tend to happen at higher speed, as drivers don't brake before crashing.

"Many of the motorists driving this weekend will not regularly drive long distances, so there will be a temptation to skip breaks and keep driving. If they do this while tired, they are in danger of becoming a statistic – one of the up to 3,000 killed or seriously injured each year as a result of falling asleep."

Andrew Howard advises: "If you feel tired, stop, drink a strong coffee2 and have a 20-minute nap – simply stretching your legs and getting some fresh air isn't sufficient."

The AA strongly recommends that motorists take a break in any journey over three hours – with additional breaks needed for journeys longer than this – and, to encourage drivers to stop, has negotiated a 20 per cent discount off food and drink at motorway service operator Moto for AA members.

AA Advice

  • Always plan journeys properly. Any journey over three hours should include a minimum 15-minute break and longer journeys need more breaks, as do drivers not used to driving long distances
  • If you do feel tired when driving, stop as soon as possible. Don't stop on the hard shoulder of a motorway but take the next exit and find somewhere to park, or stop at the next motorway service area
  • As one of their member benefits, personal AA members get 20% off food and drink at Moto service areas when they show their membership card
  • Drink one to two cups of caffeinated coffee or a stimulation drink containing caffeine
  • Caffeine takes about 20 minutes to take effect, so try and have a short nap of no more than 15-20 minutes. Much more than this and you might wake up feeling groggy
  • Remember to lock the doors of your vehicle if you are taking a nap


According to the Department for Transport, driver tiredness accounts for 10 per cent of all accidents, and up to 20 per cent of collisions on motorways or similar roads. As a result it is estimated that up to 300 people are killed a year where a driver has fallen asleep at the wheel.

1Source: ICM poll of 631 motorists for the AA

2A coffee or caffeinated energy drink with at least 120mg of caffeine.

AA members simply show your AA card to save 20% on all food and drink in the Eat and Drink Co., Costa, Moto Shop and Burger King in Moto Service Areas.

Join the discussion in the AA zone

AA Roadwatch has a new number - call 84322 or enter 'theAA' on your phone keypad


30 April 2009