Drivers are urged to be alert to fatigue as new research published by the AA Charitable Trust reveals that one in eight drivers admit falling asleep at the wheel.

Launching a new nationwide campaign alerting drivers to the dangers of drowsy driving, the Trust also reveals that nearly two fifths (37 percent) of drivers say they have been so tired they have been scared they would fall asleep when driving.

The latest road casualty statistics show drowsy drivers contributed to 53 fatal and 351 serious crashes in 2017 but it is widely accepted the true figure for fatigue-related crashes is much higher. In fact, it is estimated that up to 25 percent of fatal crashes are caused by drivers who have fallen asleep at the wheel.

The Trust’s campaign is calling on drivers to be alert to fatigue, reminding them that if they find themselves winding down the window or turning up the radio that these are a symptom of tiredness – and not an effective remedy. It advises drivers who find themselves doing these things to stop at the next safe place; have two cups of coffee (or equivalent caffeinated drink) and nap for around 15 minutes.

“One quarter of fatal crashes are sleep related so drowsiness is one of the most under-estimated risks on the roads,” said Edmund King, AA Charitable Trust Director. “Tiredness is a fact of life at some point for most of us and it is crucial we know how to manage it in relation to driving.

“Crashes involving a drowsy driver tend to be catastrophic. If a driver has fallen asleep at the wheel they do not brake before an impact and make no attempt to steer away from a collision.

“A driver who nods off for just three or four seconds on a motorway would have covered the length of a football pitch with closed eyes. A 30 second nap while travelling at 60mph covers half a mile; a terrifying thought.”

Watch the AA Charitable Trust campaign video below.

Related content: eDriving’s Awake at the Wheel white paper explains the key features of a successful fatigue risk management program, how to educate and communicate with employees, fatigue risk factors, tips to minimize fatigue risks and how telematics can help managers identify fatigue warning signs.