We recently got our hands on a copy of the newest Brit European Newsletter. Inside it was this great article written by Alan Slattery, Group Risk Management Advisor at Brit. As a part of the group, we’d like to share this interesting piece on fatigue with our drivers at Silver Arrow. It is important that we all understand the impact that fatigue has on us when we’re out on the roads.
Driver fatigue is a serious problem resulting in many thousands of road accidents each year. It is not possible to calculate the exact number of sleep related accidents but research shows that driver fatigue may be a contributory factor in over 40% of road accidents, and up to one quarter of fatal and serious accidents.
These types of crashes are about 50% more likely to result in death or serious injury as they tend to be high speed impacts because a driver who has fallen asleep cannot brake or swerve to avoid or reduce the impact.
Tiredness reduces reaction time, a critical element of safe driving. It also reduces vigilance, alertness and concentration so that the ability to perform attention-based activities – such as driving – is impaired. The speed at which information is processed is also reduced by sleepiness. The quality of decision-making may also be affected.
It is clear that drivers are aware when they are feeling sleepy, and so make a conscious decision about whether to continue driving or to stop for a rest. It may be that those who persist in driving underestimate the risk of actually falling asleep while driving. Or it may be that some drivers choose to ignore the risks (in the way that drink drivers do).
Crashes caused by tired drivers are most likely to happen:
- On long journeys on monotonous roads, such as motorways
- Between 0200hrs – 0600hrs and 1400hrs – 1600hrs
- After having less sleep than normal
- After eating
- After drinking alcohol
- If taking medicines that cause drowsiness
- After long working hours or on journeys home after long shifts, especially night shifts
Drivers most at risk:
Male drivers, truck drivers, company car drivers and shift workers are most at risk of falling asleep while driving. However, any driver travelling long distances or when they are tired, is at risk of a sleep related accident.
Young male drivers are most commonly involved in sleep-related road accidents, but this may be because they are more likely to drive in situations which are likely to lead to fatigue rather than because they are more susceptible to falling asleep at the wheel. Similarly, shift workers and commercial vehicle drivers may have a higher risk of sleep-related crashes due to work-related factors.
Many professional drivers – especially LGV drivers – report increased levels of sleepiness and are involved in a disproportionately high number of fatigue-related accidents. However, two thirds of drivers who fall asleep at the wheel are car drivers. Most (85%) of the drivers causing sleep-related crashes are men, and over one third are aged 30 or under.