One in 10 motorists fall asleep behind the wheel
So says LV= car insurance whose research has also revealed that these motorists drive at an average speed of 50mph when they nod-off, in which time they cover an average distance of 26 metres – the equivalent of two double-decker buses.
Official police figures, obtained via a Freedom of Information request, reveal that there were more than 3,357 fatigue-related road accidents recorded over the past five years. Yet only 15 police forces out of 51 were able to provide this information and so the actual figure is likely to be closer to 11,000, according to the firm.
Of the 3.4 million motorists who confessed they had fallen asleep behind the wheel in the past 12 months, one in 20 (5%) say they had an accident and almost a third (29%) either swerved or veered off the road while dozing.
Many motorists admit they sometimes risk driving despite knowing they are too tired to safely operate a vehicle. Close to a third (28%) say they have got behind the wheel of their car while they were feeling drowsy and a fifth (19%) admit they’ve hardly been able to keep their eyes open while driving.
The monotony of motorways and dual carriageways combined with a lack of sleep, are the main reasons cited for dozing while driving. Others blame long distance driving to get to a holiday destination, feeling tired after a late shift at work or feeling drowsy after taking medication.
Typically drivers fall asleep behind the wheel at night when there is not much light and fewer cars on the road. Over half (56%) of those who fell asleep while driving say it happened between 8pm and 6am. The issue is particularly prevalent in male drivers, who are nearly three times as likely to fall asleep at the wheel than their female equivalents (33% of men compared to 12% of women).
John O’Roarke, managing director of LV= car insurance, commented: ‘The research shows that when people fall asleep behind the wheel it is usually because they are on a long monotonous road and haven’t taken a break, or they haven’t had enough sleep the night before. Falling asleep while driving, even momentarily, is extremely dangerous but taking regular breaks from driving can help prevent it. If you know you are going to be driving long distance, plan ahead and make sure you have sufficient time to rest.’