22 January 2014

Employers warned of ‘deadline danger' as a third of drivers nod off at the wheel

Employers have been reminded of the danger of giving employees – especially those who drive for business – unachievable deadlines, as a new survey suggests that almost a third of motorists have momentarily nodded off at the wheel.The reminder comes from the Institute of Advanced Motorists in response to a survey by road safety charity Brake, which claimed that 7% of drivers had fallen asleep while driving and 31% had ‘head nodded', also known as micro sleeping, while at the controls.

IAM director of policy and research Neil Greig said: “No one ever suddenly falls asleep at the wheel without some warning ‘nods’ beforehand. Ignoring the signs can be potentially fatal, as sleep-related crashes commonly involve leaving the road and hitting a solid object at high speeds.

“Be aware that the risk is highest if you drive when you would normally be asleep or after lunch when the body’s natural rhythms slow down.

“Coffee, energy drinks or fresh air offer a quick, but all too often short-lived, reviver – so nothing beats a good night’s sleep or a proper break.

“Employers also need to be aware that setting unachievable deadlines that encourage their employees to drive when they are tired is very bad practice.”

The charity says that research has shown that ‘tired driving’ kills at least 300 people on UK roads every year.

Brake deputy chief executive Julie Townsend said: “The fact that so many drivers – especially men – have ‘head-nodded’ at the wheel is horrifying, even more so that many don’t recognise this means they have fallen asleep briefly.

“This survey suggests this is down to many people failing to ensure they always get sufficient sleep before embarking on journeys. We need all drivers to wake up to the fact that ‘head nodding’ is falling asleep, and can easily lead to catastrophe – but it can, of course, be prevented.”