Driving after little sleep, or failing to take regular breaks, is lethal. Yet so many drivers risk it with horrific consequences. Experts estimate that tired drivers cause one in ten fatal crashes on UK roads. This number rises to one in five on motorways and other monotonous trunk roads.
What needs to be done?
We need all drivers to understand the dangers of driving tired, and the importance of taking regular breaks and pulling over somewhere safe straight away if you feel sleepy at the wheel. We also need greater understanding of sleep apnoea, which disrupts sleep causing acute tiredness, and is thought to affect 700,000 people in the UK – it's treatable but often not recognised.
We need the government to carry out awareness-raising campaigns covering these issues, and to engage fleet operators to encourage policies to prevent driver tiredness, including eliminating unnecessary journeys by road. We also need government action to tackle tiredness from sleep apnoea, including requiring clinical guidelines for health practioners to be introduced, to aid effective diagnosis and treatment, and compulsory screening for people who drive for work. The government should also put in better and longer safety barriers where needed, such as on motorway bridges, to minimise the consequences of tired driving crashes, and conduct an audit of rest areas, to ensure drivers have plenty of options for breaks. Read our Wake up! policy briefing (July 2011).
What can you do:
Sign a petition calling for action on undiagnosed sleep apnoea
Click like above to spread the word on Facebook
Make Brake’s Pledge, including a commitment to never drive tired
Write to your MP calling for the steps outlined above to tackle tired driving
Sign up to our fortnightly e-bulletin, for updates on our campaigns and how you can help
One in eight drivers nodded off at wheel in past year, reveal Brake and Cambridge Weight Plan, 13.07.11
Brake's campaigns director speech at Wake up! parliamentary reception, 13.07.11
British Lung Foundation launches campaign raising awareness of sleep apnoea, 13.06.11
Millions risking lives through confusion over tired driving, reveal Brake and Direct Line, 13.08.10