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3.4 million motorists have fallen asleep while driving

You’ve no doubt heard of sleep walking, but what about sleep driving? A whopping 9 per cent of motorists – equivalent to 3.4 million in the UK – have allowed themselves a moment of shut-eye while driving, according to research commissioned by car insurer LV.

Over the last 12 months, one in twenty drivers surveyed admitted to causing an accident by either falling asleep completely or having a momentary ‘micro-sleep’ for a second or so. However most of these incidents were not reported to the police. Nearly a third admitted to swerving or veering off the road as a result of drifting off.

LV’s two-pronged research project questioned 2,511 British adults aged 18 and over and examined police figures obtained by a Freedom of Information request. It discovered the average sleep at the wheel lasted 1.17 seconds. That may seem short, but at 70mph drivers will have travelled 31 metres ─ enough to end up ploughing into slower moving traffic.

48 per cent of respondents blamed monotonous roads for their dozing, while 25 per cent admitted a lack of sleep the night before played a part. 11 per cent said holiday driving was the problem and roughly 3 per cent blamed their medication.

Drivers were most likely to catch Zs at the wheel between 8pm and 6am, when roads are much quieter and darker. Men were the biggest culprits: 33 per cent admitted nodding off versus 12 per cent of women.
Worryingly, a third of those surveyed were happy to drive even though they felt drowsy before even stepping into their cars.

Police figures have the number of fatigue-related road accidents at 3,357. However this figure is likely to be far higher, as only 15 police forces out of 51 have recorded data related to sleep-driving.

“Falling asleep while driving, even momentarily, is extremely dangerous but taking regular breaks from driving can help prevent it,” managing director of LV John O’Roarke explained. “If you know you are going to be driving long distance, plan ahead and make sure you have sufficient time to rest.”

Car manufacturers have cottoned on to the problem of highway hibernation. A number of new cars will warn drivers if they start leaving their lane or if their driving style leads the car to believe they might be slightly worse for wear. Some cars even go as far as scanning your eyes to see if they’re starting to close.

As a wise person (we’re not actually sure who) once said, better to arrive late on earth than early in heaven. Don’t drive when tired, simple as.

Source: Daily Mail 

Image: Flickr 

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