We have all seen the signs while driving on the motorway warning us that ‘tiredness can kill’ and suggesting that pulling over and having a rest is the best thing to do if you feel yourself becoming sleepy while driving. However, it seems as though many people are not heeding this advice, especially as recent research has shown that one in ten drivers has admitted they that have fallen asleep while behind the wheel, and one in four have said they have felt drowsy enough that they could fall asleep while driving.
Research has also shown that a massive 83 per cent of drivers admitted that they have at least one bad night’s sleep a week, meaning that they don’t get the advised seven to eight hours each night. Even more worrying is the fact that one in five drivers said that if they do feel drowsy while driving they don’t open a window or do anything else to help wake them up, but instead to drive faster in order to get home. This is extremely dangerous and could lead to drivers not paying attention to the road, becoming involved in an accident and having to claim on their motor insurance. In the worst cases falling asleep behind the wheel can cause serious collision and even fatalities, so it is always best to pull over if you are feeling drowsy.
Disussing the importance of sleep for drivers, medical director at The London Sleep Centre, Dr Irshaad Ebrahim, said: This research has highlighted a widely under-recognised cause of road fatalities, and the links between the stressful 24/7 lifestyle that we have become accustomed to and driver fatigue. The demands placed on time, both occupational and social, seem to have led to an increase in sleep disorders, which in turn leads to excessive sleepiness with potentially fatal consequences.”
“Of further importance is the impact of underlying and undiagnosed sleep disorders. Whilst self-induced sleep deprivation may account for the majority of sleepy drivers in the younger age groups, we are seeing a rise in Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (OSA) and other medical causes of a disrupted night-time which can cause driver sleepiness. Excessive sleepiness due to OSA may be responsible for up to 30% of sleepy driver accidents and fatalities. It is vital for people to seek advice from a sleep expert if they are suffering from such conditions.”