One in eight (13%) UK drivers admit to falling asleep at the
wheel, and nearly two fifths (37%) say they have been so tired they have been
scared they would fall asleep when driving.
They are the headline findings from a survey by the AA
Charitable Trust resulting in the launch of a new campaign alerting drivers to
the dangers of drowsy driving.
The latest government road casualty statistics show that
drowsy drivers contributed to 53 fatal and 351 serious crashes in 2017. But,
said the AA, it was widely accepted the true figure for fatigue-related crashes
was much higher due to under-reporting. In fact, it is estimated that up to 25%
of fatal accidents were caused by drivers who have fallen asleep at the wheel.
Data suggests that:
- Men (17%) are three times as likely as women
(5%) to say they have fallen asleep at the wheel
- Young drivers, aged 18-to-24, were the most
likely to say being very tired did not affect their driving ability (13%
compared to 2% of all drivers)
- Young drivers were also the most likely age
group to say they normally carried on regardless if they feel tired while
driving (18% compared to 3% of all drivers).
Among the top five reasons for driving tired are: A
long/hard day at work (39%) and trying to cover too much distance in one day
The AA Charitable Trust is calling on drivers to be alert to
fatigue, reminding them that if they find themselves winding down the window or
turning up the radio that they are a symptom of tiredness - and not an
If drivers find themselves doing those things they need to
take it as a sign that they are too tired and need to stop at the next safe
place; have two cups of coffee (or equivalent caffeinated drink) and nap for
around 15 minutes, said the organisation.
The campaign features a thought-provoking advert designed to
wake drivers up to the dangers of fatigue. The advert shows a driver on a
monotonous stretch of road at night. Various relaxation techniques are applied
to him by a team of masseurs in a surreal representation of how tiredness can
The ending snaps back to reality with a wide shot of the
car, the driver asleep, no masseurs inside, veering to one side over the crest
of a hill with oncoming headlights, and the payoff reads: ‘Don’t let tiredness
creep up on you. Stop. Take a break’.
Edmund King, AA Charitable Trust director, said: “One
quarter of fatal crashes are sleep related so drowsiness is one of the most
under-estimated risks on the roads. Tiredness is a fact of life at some point
for most of us and it is crucial we know how to manage it in relation to
“Crashes involving a drowsy driver tend to be catastrophic.
If a driver has fallen asleep at the wheel they do not brake before an impact
and make no attempt to steer away from a collision.
“A driver who nods off for just three or four seconds on a
motorway would have covered the length of a football pitch with closed eyes. A
30 second nap while travelling at 60mph covers half a mile; a terrifying
“Simple measures can help alleviate the risks. Awareness of
the problem is the first step, which is why we have launched this campaign and
created an advert highlighting the dangers.
“Winding down the window, singing and turning up the radio
are not remedies to tiredness - rather a symptom in themselves. If feeling
tiredness creeping up when driving then stop and take a break.”