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Warning after drivers fall asleep at wheel

Some have nodded off 10 times or more, says survey

As many as 7% of drivers have fallen asleep at the wheel in the last year, according to a survey out today.

Some have nodded off 10 times or more, the survey from road safety charity Brake and breakdown service Green Flag revealed.

More than a quarter of the 1,000 people polled said they had been a passenger in a vehicle with a tired driver, while many put their trust in ineffective measures to stay awake.

Open window

Drivers were three times more likely to open a window when tired than take a nap while safely parked.

As many as 41% drank caffeine to stop nodding off, but only 30% of them reckoned this helped.

More than 70% said they took regular breaks to prevent fatigue, while about the same number ensured they had a good night’s sleep before setting off.

Other actions taken to ward off tiredness included listening to the radio or to tapes or CDs, talking to a passenger and splashing water on their faces. But most people did not think these measures helped much.

Take a break

Jools Townsend, head of education at Brake, said: ‘It is shocking that drivers are so ignorant about how to prevent tiredness on the road.

‘It’s crucial that drivers planning long journeys or driving at unusual hours are aware of the dangers of driving tired and know how to avoid it by getting a good night’s sleep beforehand, taking regular breaks and pulling over if they feel tired.

‘We need to see high-profile advertising campaigns about the dangers of driving tired, to educate drivers who are, often unwittingly, putting themselves and others in terrible danger.’

Stop and nap

Green flag spokeswoman Abi Clark said: ‘This research highlights that drivers need to be aware of the dangers they are putting themselves and others in when driving while tired.

‘Drivers can’t just open a window or crank the music up to keep awake. They need to ensure they have a break every two hours when on a long journey and stop and take a nap if they feel tired.’

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