Young drivers are the most likely to drive despite feeling very tired, according to new research from the AA Charitable Trust.
42 per cent of those 34 and under say they have driven their return commute when very tired, compared to a quarter of all drivers. And a third of young drivers have driven to work very tired compared to a sixth of all drivers.
This means, getting behind the wheel after an early start or late finish at work is the most common time drivers under-34 admit drowsy-driving. But, across all drivers, long motorway journeys are the most common time they drive tired with 30 per cent saying they have done so.
The latest road casualty statistics show drowsy drivers contributed to 53 fatal and 351 serious crashes in 2017. It is widely accepted the true figure for fatigue related crashes is much higher due to under-reporting. In fact, it is estimated that up to 25 per cent of fatal accidents are caused by drivers who have fallen asleep at the wheel.
Regionally, drivers in Northern Ireland were the most likely to say a late finish (30 per cent) or an early start (19 per cent) at work meant they had driven when very tired. Overall, drivers in the North East were the most likely to say they had never driven when very tired (46 per cent), while drivers in Northern Ireland were the least likely to agree with this (36 per cent).
Edmund King, director of the AA Charitable Trust, said: “Young people make up a disproportionate part of the so-called gig economy. The pressures this type of work places on them may explain partly why they are trying to push on through tiredness on their commutes.
“But, attempting to plough on through tiredness is very dangerous. The only long-term remedy for tiredness is sleep itself. Fatigue related crashes tend to be very serious because if the driver is asleep they do not steer away from a collision or brake.
Last year, The AA Charitable Trust launched a Drowsy Driver campaign - which included a thought-provoking advert - to remind drivers to be alert to fatigue, warning them that winding down the windows or turning up the radio are symptoms of tiredness – and not an effective remedy.
Drivers doing these things need to take it as a sign they are too tired and need to stop at the next safe place; have two cups of coffee (or equivalent caffeinated drink) and nap for around 15 minutes.
Visit theaa.com/driving-advice or more advice about tiredness and driving.