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65% of drivers not taking rest breaks on long journeys

The research of 1.753 drivers by the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) also found that 79% will only choose to stop and take a rest if a motorway service area is located in a convenient place on their journey.

Findings further reveal that while many drivers prepare for a long journey beforehand – filling up their cars with fuel (85%) or programming in a destination into their satnavs (over 60%), only 50% of drivers will plan to make arrangements to stop at a service station, and as little as 2% fail to do any planning at all.

An existing driving simulator study conducted by Loughborough University showed that even mild dehydration can be hazardous to drivers, suggesting it can have the same effect on someone that is driving while under the influence of drinks and drugs in terms of driver errors made – affecting mood, mental functioning and changes in level of concentration.

Other major reasons as to why drivers do not consider taking a motorway break include: deeming the price of fuel at service stations too expensive (56%) or citing that food, drinks and snacks at service stations are considerably overpriced (45%).

For drivers who do have a reason to stop at a motorway service station, over 94% have said they only stop to use the toilet facilities. In fact, over a third of respondents consider a toilet break very important on long distance routes and 75% would welcome more frequent continental style picnic and toilet only rest areas across motorways and main road networks.

Sarah Sillars, IAM’s chief executive officer, said: “Where drivers avoid taking rest breaks at a motorway service station, simply because they want to reach a destination quicker, raise the risk of making several mistakes and being involved in an incident.

“Although participants have expressed an interest towards self-serving picnic and toilet sites, drivers must be encouraged to take regular breaks every two hours at any type of service station.

“Take a bottle of water with you before embarking on a long journey, keep hydrated throughout and allow for some much-needed rest.”

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Natalie Middleton

Natalie has worked as a fleet journalist for nearly 20 years, previously as assistant editor on the former Company Car magazine before joining Fleet World in 2006. Prior to this, she worked on a range of B2B titles, including Insurance Age and Insurance Day.