The BSF conference heard that 20% of fatal accidents on some roads could be blamed on driver fatigue, killing more people than drink-driving which claims more than 500 lives a year. Research released by the foundation revealed that 11% of drivers have fallen asleep at the wheel. The survey of 1,174 motorists also found that 9% had either a high or moderate chance of dozing off while sitting in traffic and a total of 16% of drivers felt their skills were affected by daytime sleepiness.
Professor Jim Horne, who heads the sleep research laboratory at Loughborough University, a consultant to the forum, said driving while tired was more dangerous than drink driving. He said: 'Drivers do not realise the danger of getting behind the wheel when they are tired. We live in a 24-hour society, with people working at all hours and this has an effect on the number of people suffering from daytime sleepiness.'
Horne told fleets to drum it into their drivers that they must rest if they feel tired behind the wheel and said fleet managers must ensure drivers are fit and healthy before they take to the road. He said: 'Drivers know they are about to fall asleep. It does not hit you out of the blue. Motorists know damn well they are sleepy and they should do more than just wind the window down.'