sleepy driving

Driving tired is as bad as driving drunk, says the AA

15th Dec, 2022

If we said to you “don’t drive drunk”, then you might well be offended at the very suggestion, and rightly so. We all know how dangerous drivers can be when they’re drunk, drugged, or distracted. But the other critical danger that’s often underestimated is tiredness. One in five accidents on major roads are caused by tired drivers, making it a far more potent risk than many people give it credit for.

What’s more, it’s a danger that can be especially prevalent at Christmas, when so many of us are undertaking longer journeys than usual to go and see family. Let’s be honest, nobody wants to end up scrapping their car on the Christmas commute, especially in the dark and the cold – so here’s what you need to know about tiredness!

How big is the risk?

Tiredness is a consistent and widespread issue for drivers, and a significant proportion of the UK population have openly admitted to fearing about its effect on their journey. For example, according to the AA:

• 1 in 8 (13%) of drivers admit to falling asleep behind the wheel
• 2 in 5 (37%) say that at least once they’ve been tired enough to worry about losing consciousness while driving
• Men are three times as likely as women (17% versus 5%) to say they’ve fallen asleep behind the wheel

So why is it as bad as driving drunk? Well, the short answer is that both alcohol and fatigue have a detrimental effect on your reaction times, which can make all the difference between a near miss and a potentially fatal collision when you’re behind the wheel. And while most people know to avoid alcohol when they’re driving, not everyone assigns the same level of importance to making sure they’re well rested.

The AA also noted a couple of influential factors that can increase the risk. Consuming a heavy meal is just one of these, as well as driving at times when you’d normally be asleep, such as the early morning. Strenuous exercise is another. You’ll note that a couple of those factors are closely associated with seasonal festivities (we think the first two, in case you’re wondering, but each to his own), so let’s have a quick look at how to keep yourself safe!

How can I avoid the pitfalls of driving tired this Christmas?

Well, for starters you can make sure you get a good night’s rest. As we’ve touched on above, it’s something that lots of people underestimate! Besides that though, there are a couple of further things you can do:

Take regular breaks

If you know you’re going to be driving throughout the morning, afternoon or evening, then make sure to stop every couple of hours, ideally with fifteen minute breaks if you’re driving for longer than two or three. Plus, it’s a good idea to plan your journey so that you’re able to take breaks – and definitely don’t start a long journey if you’re already tired!

Don’t drive for too long

Even professional HGV drivers aren’t expected to drive for more than 9 hours a day, so if you think a journey by car will take you longer than 8, make sure to book a hotel. Now in fairness, any journey within England itself is probably not going to take 8 hours, but if you find yourself approaching 6, then it might be an idea to think about where you’re going to stop off for a bit.

Trust your instincts

If you find yourself rolling down the window or turning the radio up to try and combat tiredness – it doesn’t work. Stop and take a break immediately, ideally with a short nap if you can. Make sure to do it somewhere safe though, not on the hard shoulder of a motorway. This is literally what service stations were built for – and of course, you can always count on them to have coffee.

Ultimately, you know when you’re too tired to drive – even if you might not want to admit it to yourself at the time – so listen to your body. Oh, and your passengers – if you clip a kerb or something, you can generally rely on there to be at least a few quiet protests from the back.

Wherever you’re planning on heading off for the festive season, we hope you have a very merry Christmas here at Scrap Car Network, and a happy New Year! Throughout December and beyond into 2023, we’ll be doing what we do best: getting you the very best price when you scrap your car with us. All you have to do is enter your car reg and postcode into the fields on our homepage, and we’ll provide you with a free, no-obligation instant scrap car quote! Curious to see how much your car is worth?

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