Sleep deprivation could be just as bad as drink driving

Geschrieben von mikekomo am 11. Juli 2018 08:55 Uhr


There are many dangerous activities drivers know to avoid. Many of us wouldn't dream of driving, under the influence of alcohol or illegal substances for instance. We also know the risk of driving with distractions like mobile phones and know to pull over to take a call. But how many of us knowingly make routine road trips after a night of too little sleep?


New evidence suggests that driving while sleep deprived maybe be much riskier behaviour than we might first think. But is driving tired really that dangerous? The team at Bull Barrier, who make road safety barriers, take a closer look:

The facts:
It is thought that over 20% of accidents on major roads can be related to sleep loss or fatigue. What is more worrying, recent studies have shown that getting less than five hours of sleep a night maybe as dangerous as driving under the influence of alcohol.

An American study found that drivers who get 1 to 2 hours less sleep than the recommended seven hours can double the risk of having an accident. Drivers that miss out on two to three hours sleep almost quadruple the risk of experiencing an accident — this is equal to the risk at play when driving over the legal limit of alcohol.

The new study was based on an analysis of a sample of drivers involved in 4,571 crashes. Those drivers who experienced only 4 hours sleep were an astonishing eleven times more likely to be involved in an accident.

Sleep deprivation is also thought to bring about the "fight or flight" response to stress, releasing hormones that increase the heart rate and raise blood pressure. This may affect driving capabilities.

The AA Foundation found that while 97 per cent of drivers find the idea of driving while sleep deprived unacceptable and an incredibly risky behaviour. One in three also admitted to being so tired in the past month that they found difficult to keep their eyes open when behind the wheel.

The signs:
What we know about tiredness is that it doesn't come without warning. Those drivers that fall asleep at the wheel do not do so without several warning signs appearing first. Have you opened a window in order to stay alert? Or turned the radio on to try and keep your brain active? Chances are you are driving dangerously and run the risk of falling asleep at the wheel.

If you find yourself drifting from lane to lane and having difficulty remembering driving certain stretches of road, then you are likely experiencing symptoms of drowsy driving caused by sleep deprivation.

What should I do?
If you find yourself experiencing these signs or just feel too tired to drive, make sure you stop for fifteen minutes with a caffeinated drink to improve your concentration. But remember this is a short-term solution to extreme tiredness. The safe way to avoid drowsy driving is to avoid the risk altogether by driving with the recommended hours of sleep in tow.

No matter what the reason, driving with poor concentration can put you, your passengers and other road users in harms way. Every driver should take the utmost effort to reduce the risk of avoid able accidents.

Road traffic accidents can result in serious injury and even fatalities, which is why investments have been made in new technologies in recent years to reduce the damage done by vehicle accidents. Road barriers created by Bull Barrier, for instance, absorb the impact of a collision, protecting both the colliding vehicle and other road users. Find out more at


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