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Driver fatigue

Falling asleep at the wheel

Driver sleepiness is estimated to account for one fifth of accidents on major roads.

Sleepiness reduces reaction time, alertness, concentration and decision making - all crucial driving skills. The quality of decision making may also be affected.

A large proportion of driver tiredness incidents involve someone who is driving for work. Both employees and employers have a responsibility to make sure they are familiar with company policy on working hours and driver tiredness.

Tired drivers are much more likely to have an accident. The crash is likely to be serious because a drowsy or sleeping driver does not usually brake or swerve before the impact.

These crashes are most likely to happen:

  • on long boring roads, such as motorways
  • in the early hours of the morning (between 2am and 6am)
  • in mid-afternoon (2pm to 4pm), especially after eating, or drinking even one alcoholic drink
  • after drinking alcohol
  • if taking drugs (illegal or prescription) that cause drowsiness
  • on journeys home after night shifts

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