Millions of drivers have fallen asleep at the wheel, says survey

A potential four million drivers have fallen asleep at the wheel at some point, a new study has revealed.

Issued by road safety charity IAM RoadSmart, the findings show that one in ten of the 1,000 motorists surveyed admitted to momentarily closing their eyes because they were so tired.

In addition, more than half of drivers also said that they were very concerned about fatigue when driving long distances. Applied to the more than 40 million licence holders registered in the UK, this equates to more than 20 million drivers.

Neil Greig, IAM RoadSmart director of policy and research, said: “Fatigue behind the wheel is a very serious problem, perhaps more concerning than previously thought of.

“It is shocking to think a potential four million drivers have closed their eyes behind the wheel because they were so tired, even if it was just for a short time. The potential carnage that could result from even one accident doesn’t bear thinking about.”

Other areas of the research highlighted further issues, with one in ten drivers admitting that they had hit the rumble strip of a road, while four in ten had turned down the heating or lowered the windows in order to prevent themselves from feeling tired.

Greig added: “Driving a long distance needs pre-planning to ensure there are plenty of available rest places and to make sure there’s enough time to complete the journey if delays are encountered. Never drive for longer than two hours without a break and take particular care if driving when you would normally be asleep. This is even more important as the country reopens after the pandemic and not all facilities may be available yet.

“Drivers can then concentrate on staying alert behind the wheel rather than staving off tiredness by trying to reach their end destination without adequate rest breaks.”