One in eight drivers say they have fallen asleep behind the wheel, according to new research.
A survey of over 20,000 drivers found a further 37 per cent saying they had been so tired they feared they might nod off. An estimated 53 fatal and 351 serious accidents were caused by tired drivers in 2017, with fatigue thought to be a factor in around a quarter of crashes.
The AA Charitable Trust conducted a survey of 20,561 motorists and found 17 per cent of men have fallen asleep at the wheel compared to just five per cent of women.
The data also revealed that motorists aged 18 to 24 are most likely to say tiredness does not affect their driving ability – 13 per cent compared with two per cent average – while they’re also the most likely to carry on driving regardless of tiredness – 18 per cent compared to three per cent average.
Of the drivers surveyed, 57 per cent stopped for a break as soon as they realised they might be too tired to drive – compared with 34 per cent of 18 to 24-year-olds – 36 per cent said they felt fine when they started their journey and the drowsiness took them by surprise – higher among 18 to 24-year-olds at 45 per cent.
Some 11 per cent knew they were tired when they began their journey – 29 per cent of 18 to 24-year-olds, 15 per cent of women and nine per cent of men. Finally, 23 per cent said they had been driving for more than two hours without a break when they were affected by tiredness – 25 per cent of men and 19 per cent of women.
The top five reasons given for driving tired are a long and/or hard day at work (39 per cent), the monotony of a journey (33 per cent), late night driving (27 per cent), trying to cover too much distance in one day (27 per cent) and lack of sleep the night before (26 per cent).
AA charitable trust director and president of the AA Edmund King illustrated the figures by explaining: “A driver who nods off for just three or four seconds on a motorway would have covered the length of a football pitch with closed eyes. A 30-second nap while travelling at 60mph covers half a mile – a terrifying thought.”