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Danger caused by sleepy drivers.

ONE in five motorway accidents may be caused by drivers falling asleep at the wheel, research published today shows.

And one in 10 of all road crashes are probably down to fatigue, the research also found.

The statistics were published as the Government launched a new pounds 200,000 campaign to highlight the dangers posed by sleepy drivers.

The research also shows

As many as 300 deaths a year are down to sleepiness among motorists

Sleep-related accidents are far more likely to lead to deaths and serious injuries as drivers do not brake to avoid impact

The danger time for falling asleep at the wheel is between 4am and 6am when a motorist is 13 times as likely to have a sleep-related accident as someone driving mid-morning or early evening

Eleven per cent of all motorway accidents happen in this 4am to 6am period even though traffic is only a fifth of the average daily level

Twenty per cent of all motorway accidents happen on the hard shoulder, and fatigue is known to play a part in a number of these

Fear of prosecution and difficulties with insurance claims may deter motorists from admitting they fell asleep

Instead, accidents caused by sleepiness can be categorised as "inattention" or "perceptual error"

Sleep apnoea, a medical condition which can result in "micro sleeps" is a fairly common condition with studies showing that sufferers are seven times more likely to have a road accident than normal drivers

Sixty per cent of drivers admitted in an RAC poll they had driven while sleepy, eight per cent said they had momentarily nodded off at the wheel and 30 per cent said they were more aggressive when driv-ing while tired.
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Author:Woodman, Peter
Publication:Coventry Evening Telegraph (England)
Date:Aug 14, 2000
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