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1 IN 10 DRIVERS FALL ASLEEP AT THE WHEEL; Campaign to keep motorists alert and safe.


MORE than one in 10 drivers have fallen asleep behind the wheel of a car, road safety chiefs revealed yesterday.

A new survey found more than half of all motorists have also tried to beat tiredness by opening windows or other ineffective ways.

The Road Safety Authority fears driver fatigue is a silent killer which could have claimed the lives of 350 people over the last three years.

In a bid to combat it and target other killer behaviours on roads throughout the Easter Bank Holiday weekend, Topaz service stations will hand out free coffee while gardai will focus on catching reckless drivers.

RSA's Noel Brett said scientific studies show a motorist who persistently fights sleep is as dangerous as a drink driver.

He added: "Last Easter two people died on Irish roads and last St Patrick's weekend eight people were killed. We want people to be aware of the dangers they face, particular in relation to driver fatigue.

"If every one one of us takes responsibility then families will not be planning funerals over this weekend." The RSA survey of 800 motorists found 14 per cent of people nodded off when driving, with men between 35 and 54 years most likely to fall asleep.

Half of all incidents occurred between 9pm and 6am, with one in five cars drifting out of its lane of traffic. If a driver has a micro-sleep for just four seconds while travelling at 100km/h the car will move 111 metres with no control.

Mr Brett revealed tired drivers should stop, take a caffeine drink, have a 15 minute nap and then a short walk.

Topaz plans to give away up to 20,000 free coffees on the Friday of every Bank Holiday weekend at its 105 companyowned stations around the country to help get people to their destinations safely.

But while the number of people killed on the road so far this year has dropped we will of extra to 59 from 80 last year - gardai said drink driving arrests rose 41 per cent last Easter to 69.

Chief Supt Gabriel McIntyre of the National Traffic Bureau revealed 1,000 members of the Garda Traffic Corps will be out in force over the break to tackle drivers speeding, taking drink or drugs and not wearing seatbelts.

He said: "Every accident is one too many and this particular weekend we will have a lot of extra resources.

"We are encouraging people to stop when they feel any sense of tiredness.

We are out to ensure people can start their journey and end there journey safely."


APPEAL Traffic Garda Kevin McNulty, Topaz chief Eddie O Brien and chief of RSA Noel Brett yesterday in Dublin
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Apr 9, 2009
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