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Driving and Drowsiness – A Dangerous Combination

 

Being drowsy whilst driving is a major problem in the UK, and it’s enough to test even the safest and most experienced of drivers. Drowsy driving usually happens when you have not slept enough, but can also occur due to untreated sleep disorders, taking medications, or even shift work. It can affect you at any time, as it’s difficult to pinpoint the exact moment when sleep comes over the body. Just as driving while intoxicated is risky and dangerous, not to mention illegal, drowsiness makes you less able to pay attention to the road, slows your reaction time particularly if you need to break or steer abruptly, and affects your ability to make sound driving decisions. We are all aware of the common dangers associated with driving while alert, such as other cars failing to signal and low visibility, but drowsiness is an equally dangerous way to hurt yourself and other drivers around you. A lack of sleep accounts for approximately 20% of all crashes on main roads here in the UK, so don’t be a statistic, pull over to rest or change drivers if you feel any warning signs coming on. 

Legally Responsible

In the UK, if you have a car accident whilst sleep deprived, the law will make you accountable. Although the courts have some deal of flexibility on this matter, if you are charged with dangerous driving, and by definition this means driving in a way that is below the minimum acceptable standard and poses a risk to personal injury or safety, then you will be charged. While a judge’s sentence may vary depending on the amount of damage caused by an accident, at the very minimum your license will be revoked. A prison sentence of up to five years is also possible, even if no serious injury or harm has been done. It is clear to see that the UK judicial system takes driving whilst drowsy very seriously.

 

Is It That Common?

Surprisingly, driving whilst tired is more common than one would think. What would seem as something that is easily avoidable by following a regular pattern of sleep and ensuring your energy levels are stable, driving whilst tired happens more often than imagined. For example, if you are looking forward to an event or a special occasion and are unable to sleep through the night, you may well find yourself sleep deprived in the morning. This poses potential risks to your driving skills, including excessive speeding, or worse, nodding off at the wheel.

Most accidents occur between the hours of 2-6am, even amongst those who are sober. At this time of the day, most people are relaxed and a bit more carefree with their driving as the roads are generally quieter. This is when drivers lose control of their vehicles and crash as their focus is not on other vehicles around them.  

 

Commercial drivers – those who operate tow trucks and buses, for example, are particularly vulnerable during this time of the day, and for two main reasons. Firstly, commercial drivers tend to either be on a delivery deadline or need to return to their base depot, and because of this, they rarely break through the night and get the rest they need. Secondly, and as the Freight Transport Association points out, there is a lack of rest-stop facilities for commercial drivers on UK motorways. The Association describes this shortage as a mistake and an example of how money and business will always win over common sense and personal safety.

The Warning Signs of Drowsy Driving

There is a difference between being tired and being too tired to drive, and it’s something that can hit you at any time. You may start on an all-day car journey perfectly fine and alert, but as the journey progresses you can easily start to feel tired.

The National Sleep Foundation has identified a few symptoms to watch out for which can help you determine when to take a rest break. Some of these symptoms include:

·         - Struggling to focus accompanied by frequent blinking and heavy eyelids

·         - Daydreaming and keeping your focus

·        -  Difficulty remembering the last distances driven

·        -  Missing your exit and drifting from your lane

·        -  Repeated yawning and irritability

 

If it feels as though you are suffering from one or more of these symptoms, find a safe place to pull off on the side of the road, such as a resting spot. If you have another person in the vehicle who is licensed and insured to drive, ask them to take over. Just remember not to panic if you feel any of these symptoms as increased fear means there is a generally a higher risk of crash.

Although drinking coffee can help in small doses, it is best not to rely on it as a solution to your drowsiness as too much caffeine can make a driver experience lapses in concentration and slower reaction times. Coffee consumption is only to be used as a quick fix and not as a substitute for regular breaks. The best advice is to stay calm and exercise caution and good judgement so you can get to your destination safely and securely.

Article written and kindly supplied to us by Justin Fox

Britain’s a nation of angry drivers

Every week, 30 million car drivers are left raging on the roads, according to research conducted on behalf of Ocean Finance.

With as many as 10 million Brits getting agitated behind the wheel every day, it would seem the streets of the UK are a major cause of anger.

Those living in Wales were most likely to keep their cool when faced with driving annoyances. Comparatively, the North East comes out as the hotspot for hotheads, with 92% admitting to losing their rag on the road at least once a week.

Furthermore, men (88%) were marginally more likely to see red than women (84%).

Tailgating, people not indicating and people who use their mobile phone behind the wheel came out as the top pet peeves for most drivers. Other common irritations include:

Bad habits on the road  Number of people who say they get annoyed by others doing this

Not indicating

6.6m

Tailgaters

6.6m

Using a mobile phone

6.5m

Being cut-up

2.6m

Speeding

2.6m

Not saying ‘thank you’

2.4m

Driving below the speed limit

2m

Blocking junctions

2m

Jumping traffic lights

1.2m

Drifting out of lanes

0.9m

 

When faced with people who annoy them on the road, 8 million Brits swear to release their frustration and a further 4.5 million use hand gestures to make their anger known.

As many as half a million Brits say that they would go to the length of following the car until it stops so they can tell the driver off – 18 to 24-year-olds were twice as likely to do this than any other age group.

Worryingly, one in three drivers say they have been in an incident as a result of someone’s careless, bad driving habits. While most (8 million) got away with just a minor incident, 2.5 million were caught up in a more serious accident.

Ian Williams, Ocean’s spokesperson, said: “The vast majority of drivers are careful, polite and considerate.  However, when we do encounter one that isn’t it seems that many of us struggle to keep our cool.  We’d urge drivers who encounter some dodgy driving to stay calm – getting stressed isn’t going to help.”

Editors’ notes

* Red Dot questioned a nationally representative sample of 2,000 adults aged 18 and over between 14th March 2016 – 17th March 2016, of whom 636 were Scottish residents. Figures have been extrapolated to fit ONS 2013 population projections of 50,371,000 UK adults.

About Ocean Finance

Established in 1991, Ocean Finance is one of the UK’s leading loan and mortgage brokers. The company works with many of the UK’s leading loan and mortgage lenders to help people find the right deal.

Website: www.oceanfinance.co.uk

For further information please contact:

Ian Williams

Ian.williams@thinkmoneygroup.com

@iwill41

 

Tel: 0161 605 6005 / Mob: 07855 214851