In addition, 67% of sleep-related crashes are caused by car drivers, with most happening on a Monday, whereas ‘normal’ road crashes mainly occur on Fridays.
The research was announced by Transport Minister David Jamieson and coincides with an advertising campaign warning of the dangers of ‘microsleeps’ – potentially fatal dozes of two to 30 seconds. These normally happen when people are tired but try to stay awake.
Jamieson said: ‘This research demonstrates the problem and extent of driving tired. Our campaign aims to highlight how dangerous it is, so that people realise the importance of planning their journeys and taking regular breaks.We’re all guilty of wanting to get to places as quickly as possible but a short break can make all the difference.’
Road safety experts say the findings are a warning to fleet managers of the need to tackle fatigue in their policies on managing occupational road risk. The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) head of driver and fleet solutions, Charles Davis, said: ‘We are not surprised by these figures, but they are still very disturbing.
‘They should make fleet managers look very closely at the way they are dealing with the potential for their drivers being over-tired at the wheel.
‘If 67% of sleep-related crashes are caused by car drivers, it is likely that a high proportion of them are on the roads for work purposes. We know that between a third and a quarter of all deaths on Britain’s roads are in some way work-related.’
The DfT has issued a series of tips to avoid driving while tired: