Up to 25% of fatal car accidents are caused by drivers who have fallen asleep at the wheel, new research suggests.
It comes after one in eight UK motorists admitted they had nodded off while driving, with close to two-fifths saying they’d sometimes been so tired they feared they would fall asleep.
The estimation of the number of fatal car accidents attributed to fatigue was made in a report by the Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety, correlated against an online poll of 20,561 drivers by the AA.
Edmund King, AA Charitable Trust director, said: “One quarter of fatal crashes are sleep-related, so drowsiness is one of the most underestimated risks on the roads. Tiredness is a fact of life at some point for most of us and it is crucial we know how to manage it in relation to driving.
“Crashes involving a drowsy driver tend to be catastrophic. If a driver has fallen asleep at the wheel they do not brake before an impact and make no attempt to steer away from a collision.
“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.”
The research has been announced as part of a new campaign by the AA to alert motorists to the dangers of driving while tired.
It revealed that men are three times as likely as women to admit that they have fallen asleep at the wheel, while motorists aged 18 to 24 are the most likely to say that being tired bears no relevance on their ability to drive.
The main reasons given for driving when tired were a long day at work, the general monotony of the journey, and because it was late at night.