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Nearly half of men fall asleep while driving

A third of drivers admit to falling asleep behind the wheel.

A fair few of us can surely admit to rapidly winding down the window and cranking the radio to full volume when feeling less than perky behind the wheel, but apparently over 31 per cent of drivers are guilty of momentarily falling asleep behind the wheel, according to a survey. 

According to research from road safety charity Brake, almost 45 per cent of men drive tired to the point of a two to 30-second micro-sleep. The consequences of these lapses in concentration can be fatal with over 300 people killed annually in the UK due to tired driving. The penalties for causing such devastation can be punishing too, with 14 years in prison at maximum sentence.

Reportedly, almost half of these deaths involve a commercial vehicle, with one in five deaths on the roads involving vehicles running off the road or crashing into the back of another vehicle at high speed. Simulators show that drivers who fall asleep for six seconds while driving at 70mph can travel over 200m. 

One in 14 drivers in the survey admitted to actually falling asleep for longer. 49 per cent of respondents admitted to sleeping less than five hours before driving.

The Safe Driving research surveyed 1000 drivers. It was conducted in partnership with insurance company, Direct Line. Rob Miles, Director of Motoring at Direct Line, said: “Tiredness and driving are a deadly combination. Not only is there a risk of falling asleep at the wheel, but when we are tired our reactions and awareness of our surroundings are not as sharp as they would normally be.”

Brake encourages drivers to take regular breaks and to look out for warning signs of sleepiness, such as yawning, heavy eyelids and difficulty concentrating. It advises drivers against fighting sleepiness by winding down windows or turning the stereo up, instead urging drivers to have an energy drink and a powernap, as opposed to ‘pushing through’. 

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