Four million drivers have momentarily fallen asleep behind the wheel, shocking new research by IAM RoadSmart has revealed.
The study for the UK’s largest independent road safety charity is alarming because even the briefest lapse in concentration when driving can have devastating consequences because at 70mph a car travels at more than 100 feet per second.
One in 10 drivers surveyed admitted to momentarily closing their eyes because they were so tired, while more than half (equating to some 20 million motorists) said they were very concerned about fatigue when driving long distances.
Other results from the research revealed that one in 10 drivers admitted that they had hit the rumble strip, while 40% had turned down the heating or rolled down the windows in order to stop them from being tired.
On a slightly more positive note, around a quarter of drivers had pulled over for a rest and/or a coffee.
“Fatigue behind the wheel is a very serious problem, perhaps more concerning than previously thought of,” said Neil Greig, IAM RoadSmart Director of Policy & Research.
“It is shocking to think a potential four million drivers have closed their eyes behind the wheel because they were so tired, even if it was just for a short time. The potential carnage that could result from even one accident doesn’t bear thinking about.
“Driving a long distance needs pre-planning to ensure there are plenty of available rest places and to make sure there’s enough time to complete the journey if delays are encountered.
Never drive for longer than two hours without a break and take particular care if driving when you would normally be asleep. This is even more important as the country reopens after the pandemic and not all facilities may be available yet.
“Drivers can then concentrate on staying alert behind the wheel rather than staving off tiredness by trying to reach their end destination without adequate rest breaks.”