Road traffic accident fear as 1 in 8 drivers admit ‘head nodding’

Published: 28/07/2011

12 per cent of drivers have admitted ‘head nodding’ – the term used to describe when someone nods off for between 2 and 30 seconds – whilst driving in the last year, a survey by Brake and Cambridge Weight Plan has revealed.

In addition, the survey of 1000 drivers also discovered one in four drivers set off on a journey even if they are already drowsy, while a massive 86 per cent confessed they do not follow best practice and take a break when they are tired.

Drivers aged 18-24 were the worst offenders with 25 per cent admitting to head nodding and 55 per cent to beginning a journey tired. In terms of the gender wars, men were the much more likely to drive tired. 50 per cent more men admitted they started a journey when they were sleepy and more than twice as many acknowledged they had head-nodded in the last year.

Tiredness is a serious contributory factor to road traffic accidents. In 2009, fatigue accounted for 1806 accidents, 73 of which were fatal¹. Road accidents caused by tiredness have more of a tendency to be at high speed and thus resulting in a more severe accident. This is largely down to the fact the driver does not have time to break before impact.

Julie Townsend, Campaign Director at Brake said:

“Tiredness at the wheel kills. Driving a vehicle is a huge responsibility that must be taken seriously. That means stopping when we feel drowsy and certainly never starting a journey tired. It’s a matter of life and death.”

According to the report, if you are driving on a motorway at the national speed limit (70mph) and nod off for six seconds, you would travel nearly 200 metres. That would give the vehicle enough time to travel across all three lanes of the motorway and down an embankment onto, potentially, another road or railway line.

¹Department of Transport: Reported Road Casualties Great Britain (2009)
²Brake (July 2011)

Content correct at time of publication

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