sleepAccording to a recent European study, prolonged night time driving can be as hazardous as driving drunk! The report, published in the Journal of Sleep Research, claims that up to 20% of accidents in industrialised countries can be attributed to fatigue and that driving as little as 3 hours at night was similar to being intoxicated.

The Highways Agency estimated in 2009 that 300 people die each year on the UK roads in sleep-related incidences.

I have to admit to being slightly surprised by these statistics. How many of us wouldn’t think twice about jumping in the car early in the morning before your first coffee of the day or making that long journey to start/end your holiday overnight to avoid the rush-hour traffic? But on the other hand wouldn’t ever consider driving a car after having an alcoholic drink?

This got me thinking about some tips for safe driving to avoid fatigue at the wheel and I discovered the Safer Motoring website offered some great advice:

  • Don’t start your journey tired, make sure you are fit both mentally and physically for your trip.
  • If you are to be driving for a long period pre-plan 15 minute breaks every two hours.
  • Where possible, avoid driving for long periods between 12 midnight and 8am.
  • If you must stop, find a safe place to rest – the hard-shoulder is not suitable for having a break.

Some of the other common theories about keeping awake (opening your window to get fresh air and playing loud music) appear to only have a minimal, short term effect. In my experience, sharing the driving with a friend/partner also helps keep you fresh when taking long journeys.

Next time you take a long journey or need to drive where there is a risk of getting tired, consider the above recommendations on keeping safe. If you have any tips on how to drive safely, we’d love to hear them and for more information on adding an additional driver to your next Avis car rental, click here.

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