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Exhausted drivers pose significant safety threat


Road safety and breakdown organisation in the UK GEM Motoring Assist recently urged drivers to be wise to the dangers of fatigue on journeys. It says that the risks are particularly high among those who drive for their work, as they are likely to be at the wheel for long periods, or with tight deadlines to meet in the course of a day.

GEM road safety officer Neil Worth comments: “Exhausted drivers pose a significant safety threat, to themselves, to their passengers and to others who share the same road space. Fatigue is a major contributory factor in around 20 per cent of road crashes, particularly in the early hours of the morning. However, on long, monotonous stretches of motorway it’s likely that a much greater proportion of collisions will be fatigue-related.

“Collisions occur when an exhausted driver fails to respond quickly and safely if a dangerous situation arises. These collisions are typically around 50 per cent more likely to result in death or serious injury, as the driver is unable to take avoiding action to reduce severity of an impact.”

Statistics show that those most at risk from a fatigue-related collision include young male drivers, shift workers, truck drivers and company car drivers. Around 85 per cent of drivers who cause fatigue-related crashes are male, and more than one third of these are aged under 30.

Neil Worth concludes: “Think about situations where you may be at increased risk of a collision because you’re tired. It may be the length of the journey you’re making that puts you at risk, but it could be your general state of alertness before you get behind the wheel.

“Crucially, when you’re driving, you will know when you’re starting to feeling sleepy – it won’t just suddenly happen. So don’t ignore the warnings your body is giving you. Make the decision to stop driving as soon as it’s safe and practical.

“Giving yourself a proper break could make the difference not just for your own safety, but for the safety of those around you.”

Stay safe, stay alert!

Tips will help any driver reduce the risk of being in a fatigue-related collision

  • Preventing fatigue is more helpful than having to deal with it, so ensure you get a good night’s sleep before heading off on a long trip.
  • Don’t drive for more than eight to ten hours in a day. Aim to share the driving if possible.
  • Take regular breaks – a break of at least 15 minutes after every two hours or every 100 miles is recommended.
  • Don’t drink alcohol before your trip. Even a small amount can significantly contribute to driver fatigue.
  • Avoid driving at times when you’d usually be sleeping.
  • If you feel you’re becoming drowsy, consider pulling over somewhere safe (and legal) to take a 15 minute power-nap.