Driving after little sleep, or failing to take regular breaks, can be lethal. Yet many drivers take the risk, with horrific consequences. Tired drivers are estimated to cause one in 10 fatal crashes on UK roads, rising to one in five on motorways and other monotonous trunk roads.
Tired driver crashes kill at least 300 people on UK roads every year, although the true figure could be much higher as it can be hard to prove tiredness as the cause of any individual crash.
What needs to be done?
Drivers can help make our roads safer by understanding the dangers of driving tired, taking regular breaks and pulling over somewhere safe straight away if they feel sleepy at the wheel. We also need greater awareness of sleep apnoea, a medical condition which disrupts sleep, causing acute tiredness – it is thought to affect 700,000 people in the UK, and is treatable but often not recognised.
We are calling for government to carry out awareness-raising campaigns about these issues, and to engage organisations that employ drivers to encourage policies to prevent driver tiredness, including eliminating unnecessary journeys by road. We also need government action to tackle tiredness from sleep apnoea, such as introducing clinical guidelines for health practitioners to aid effective diagnosis and treatment, and compulsory screening for people who drive for work.
The government should also improve infrastructure to minimise the consequences of tired driving crashes, for instance by installing better and longer safety barriers where needed – such as on motorway bridges – and conducting a review of rest areas, to ensure drivers have plenty of options for breaks.
Find out more in our wake up! policy briefing (July 2011).
What can I do?
- Share the campaign on Twitter, Facebook or Google+ using the buttons at the top of the page
- Tweet your support: @Brakecharity, #WakeUp
- Make Brake's Pledge, including a commitment to never drive tired
- Write to your MP calling for government action to tackle tired driving
- Sign up to our monthly bulletin for updates on our campaigns and how you can help
- Fundraise to support Brake's campaigns and vital support work
- Sign up for the UK's flagship road safety event, Road Safety Week, in November
- If you drive for work, encourage your employer to take advantage of Brake's Fleet Safety Forum and adopt best practice to prevent driver tiredness
Find out what you can do to help our other campaigns.
Bolton MP wins national road safety award for campaign to raise awareness of sleep apnoea, 08/10/2014
Wake up to dangers of tired driving, male drivers urged: half have nodded off at wheel, 09/01/2014
Half of drivers ignore basic advice to prevent deadly tiredness at the wheel, 25/07/2013
One in eight drivers nodded off at wheel in past year, 13/07/2011
Brake's campaigns director speech at Wake Up! parliamentary reception, 13/07/2011
Driver tiredness on the rise ten years on from Selby rail crash, 28/02/2011
British Lung Foundation launches campaign raising awareness of sleep apnoea, 13/06/2011
Millions risking lives through confusion over tired driving, reveal Brake and Direct Line, 13/08/2010