We’ve probably all been there – especially on long distance drives. You rub your eyes, stretch as much as you can, have a coffee, and tell yourself you’ll skip this stop and push on to the next service station. It’s a common mistake – and it can be absolutely deadly. Recent research has shown that driving when you’re tired can actually be even more dangerous than driving under the influence of drugs. And while most of us would never do that, it still seems to be acceptable – perhaps even admirable in some quarters – to push your body to the limits of endurance while you’re driving. Clearly this is a way of thinking that has to stop.
In 2015, 68 people died on our roads in accidents where tiredness was discovered to be a contributory factor – more than the number killed due to drug driving. And it’s been discovered that 20 per cent of accidents on British roads are down to tiredness – again, compare that to the 18% of accidents that are blamed on drug use.
Even more alarmingly – and a real wake up call for employers – is the news that around 40 per cent of those tiredness-related accidents involved commercial vehicles. It’s clear that drivers – or possibly the firms that employ them – are putting too much pressure on to work long hours without enough sleep.
Tiredness impairs our ability to concentrate, and also drastically reduces our reaction times – both pretty important skills that are required for staying safe behind the wheel. Research also shows that as we get tireder we find it harder to process information – again impairing our ability to adapt to rapidly developing situations on the road.
Many in the industry are now calling for legislation to encourage drivers to take more breaks, and to raise awareness of the dangers of driving when tired. Here at Big Motoring World, we think that’s a great idea – but until the law changes, just remember to take a break now and then.