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  • Writer's pictureEllis Wood ADI

This common mistake causes MORE accidents than drug-driving - have you done it?

By Luke John Smith

NEW road accident figures have revealed that a common mistake behind the wheel could be more dangerous than taking drugs while driving. 

Driving while fatigued has contributed to more road accidents in Great Britain than drug-driving offences, new research has revealed. Around 20 per cent of road accidents on major UK roads are related to fatigue – compared to 18 per cent caused by drugs, the last reported figures in 2015 confirmed. Of those accidents, 40 per cent of those accidents involved commercial vehicles, which highlights an issue with long hours and lack of sleep for drivers doing these jobs.  

Figures for 2015, provided by Department for Transport, show fatigue was a contributory factor in 68 deaths on the roads of Great Britain – which is one more recorded death than those who were impaired by illicit or medicinal drugs. 

In addition to the amount of fatalities caused by fatigued drivers, 435 people were seriously injured and 2,279 people suffered minor injuries compared to the 350 people who sustained major injuries and 997 minor injuries for drug related incidents. A new drug driving law was introduced in England and Wales in March 2015 were a ‘zero tolerance’ limits were introduced for eight illegal drugs and ‘risk based’ limited for eight common prescription drugs. Those caught could face a minimum ban of 12 months, an unlimited fine, six months in prison and even a criminal record. 

Some people are now calling for a crackdown on fatigued driving, seeing higher punishments be introduced to dissuade drivers from getting behind the wheel.  

According to comparison site, thousands of cars are scrapped each year due to fatigue related crashes and experts are astonished more isn’t being done to combat this. “When you think one in five crashes is fatigue related, this has to make people sit up and take notice,” said a spokesperson. 

"Just as there are rules for consuming an excessive amount of alcohol, should there be a case for restrictions on driving where the driver has had less than set minimum hours of sleep in the past 24 hours? 

“We receive many enquiries from those whose vehicles are taken from the roads suffering from fatigue.” Tiredness can greatly reduce your reaction time and will affect your alertness and concentration. Research has found that most cases of incidents caused by drowsy driving occurring from midnight to 8.00 am.

Ellis says - Things to try:

The pre-drive nap: taking a short nap before a road trip can help make up for a short night's sleep. 

The mid-drive nap: if you find yourself drowsy while driving, pull over to take a short nap of 20 minutes.

Even very small amounts of alcohol will enhance drowsiness.

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