Driving tired could be as risky as driving drunk
The risks of driving after a few drinks should be known to everyone, but most people don’t realise that driving whilst tired can be equally as dangerous. Aviva conducted a study with some safety experts to comprehend the dangers of each.
Aviva spoke with Kevin Clinton, the ‘Head of Road Safety at the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents’ about the dangerous risks of driving with alcohol in your system. According to Aviva, he said that “any amount of alcohol slows reactions, impairs judgement of speed and distance, reduces the field of vision, and in the same way that it lowers inhibitions it can make drivers over-confident and more likely to take risks.”
The common warning signs that someone is driving under the influence include that they are driving at a speed significantly lower or higher than the speed limit, they are swaying across the road, might fail to remember to turn on their headlights when it’s dark, tailgating, close to hitting various objects, other motorists or curbs, and failing to stop or start on time or doing it very quickly.
250 deaths are caused every year in the UK due to drunk driving and despite this, 70,000 motorists fail the breath test annually (Aviva). The penalty for drunk driving is up to “6 months in prison, an unlimited fine, and a driving ban for at least a year” (Clinton; Aviva). Of course, if a person driving under the influence causes a person’s death in addition to an unlimited fine, they could be banned from driving for 2 years and could face up to 14 years imprisonment.
Over half the people in Aviva’s study confessed that they had struggled to remain awake and alert whilst driving in the past, whilst 1 in 20 admitted that if they are tired they are more likely to ignore speed limits and traffic laws.
Clinton told Aviva that, “the speed at which information is processed is reduced by sleepiness. The quality of decision-making may also be affected.” Driving a vehicle requires a high level of concentration and this is hard to do when tired.
The common warning signs that someone is too tired to be driving is that they are yawning, their eyes could be rolling and their neck muscles might start to relax, their head might start to droop, they might start swaying from lane to lane, they could start being oblivious to road signs resulting in getting lost. If your eyes are close, you will not see the danger and will not react.
20% of major road accidents are sleep- related and 40% of these involve commercial vehicles. It is 50% more likely to result in death or serious injury if driving when tired and 85% of sleep-related crashes involve male drivers (Aviva). Clinton told Aviva that a driver being tired may be a contributory factor in “up to one quarter of fatal and serious accidents” as a result.
The consequences for causing an incident due to being tired behind the wheel can be just as severe as those caused by driving under the influence of alcohol, both are examples of dangerous driving and carry a maximum penalty of up to 14 years imprisonment.
So, not only should you call a taxi after a few drinks at the pub, you should also consider it if you feel too tired to get behind the wheel.