January 3, 2017

Tired drivers cost lives – don’t drive tired!

Tired drivers cost lives – don’t drive tired!

Driver fatigue is a serious problem resulting in thousands of road accidents each year. According to government research, driver fatigue may be a contributory factor in up to 20% of road accidents, and up to 25% of fatal and serious accidents.

Studies also indicate that 20% of accidents on motorways in the UK are caused by sleepiness, while more than 300 people a year are killed, and many more seriously injured, as a result of drivers falling asleep at the wheel.

What causes fatigue related crashes?

Crashes are most likely to happen:

  • On long journeys on monotonous roads, such as motorways
  • Between 2am and 6am
  • Between 2pm and 4pm
  • After having less sleep than normal
  • After drinking alcohol
  • If taking medicines that cause drowsiness
  • After long working hours or on journeys home after long shifts, especially night shifts.

 >>Tired Drivers Cost Lives | Don’t Drive Tired – Download PDF Guide<< 

Advice for companies

According to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA), as part of a recruitment, training and staff appraisal, drivers should be reminded about the danger of falling asleep at the wheel and the need for safe journey planning, including the need to get adequate sleep before starting to drive.

Company policy should also dictate how to organise shifts and workloads to reduce the risk of driving tired, while the organisation’s policy on what staff should do if they feel fatigued before or whilst driving should be readily available.

Don't drive tired driver guide


Where employees have to travel a long distance to a work location at the beginning of the day, or if the journey is likely to take more than two hours, companies should also consider asking staff to travel the night before and stay overnight.

Similarly, at the end of a work period at a remote location, employers should make provision for employees to stay overnight so that they do not have to drive a long distance home when tired.

Advice for drivers

Crashes caused by drivers falling asleep typically involve vehicles running off the road or into the back of another vehicle. They tend to be high-speed incidents, because drivers do not brake before crashing, so the risk of death or serious injury is high.

Even if tired drivers don’t fall asleep, they still pose a danger. Too little sleep radically affects your ability to drive safely, increasing reaction times, reducing attention, and reducing your ability to control the vehicle.

Research suggests driving tired can be as dangerous as drink-driving. If you cause a death while driving tired, you can be charged with death by dangerous driving. The maximum penalty for this is 14 years in prison.

The best solution for tired drivers is not to put themselves in a situation of risk in the first place.

A useful tool is a journey planner, which takes you through a series of checks and balances to ensure the right decision is taken in relation to driving for business.

The first check is to ask whether you actually have to drive. If not, then consider the alternatives including remote communications or going by rail, air, bus or coach – it’s safer and can reduce CO2.

If you absolutely must drive, then carefully plan the journey.

  • Share the driving if possible
  • Ensure your vehicle is in a safe condition
  • Make sure you are not impaired by alcohol or drugs
  • Make sure you are well rested
  • Book an overnight stop if necessary
  • Avoid driving in peak sleepiness periods


Plan the route

Plan your route carefully, taking into account the following factors:

  • Plan where to take rest breaks – at least every two hours
  • Plan where to stop for the night if necessary
  • Check for delays – plan alternative routes
  • Check for roadworks or other problems
  • Do not plan to drive when you would normally be asleep


During the journey

There are a number of things you can do to keep alert during the journey itself:

  • Take rest breaks as planned
  • Listen to traffic news for possible delays
  • Concentrate on your driving

However, if you do start to feel tired:

  • Find somewhere safe to stop
  • Take two strong caffeine drinks
  • Nap for about 15 minutes
  • If you are still too tired to continue, then find somewhere safe to stop for the night.


Tips for staying awake

  1.  Use food and drink to keep you alert
  • Coffee works especially well since it contains caffeine
  • But make sure you have plenty of water to keep hydrated
  • Avoid sugar. Sugar causes several responses in your system which can result in drowsiness some time later
  • Eat healthy snacks like fruit or nuts, not sweets or chocolates
  • Chew gum to keep your mouth busy. It stops you yawning, which stops the dozing off.
  1. Keep things cooler
  • Set the car temperature lower, a little cooler than you’d ordinarily like. But not cold, as your body and brain need to stay warm enough to function well. Set the vents to blow on your face.
  • Wipe your face and neck with a wet cloth or wet-wipe as this is very refreshing.
  • Open a window for a short time. A strong, cold wind in your face can help you stay alert.
  1. Play music
  • Listen to music but try and avoid any that is too rhythmic or soothing. Turn the volume up.
  • Sing along with the music/radio or have a conversation with someone in the car. Singing and talking are both active things you can do that won’t interfere with your driving. Just make sure you don’t get distracted.