In a new survey by Brake, the road safety charity, 45% of male respondents and 31% of all respondents admitted to “head-nodding” at the wheel.
Brake describes the figures as “horrifying” and is urging drivers to get plenty of sleep and take regular breaks. The charity says that tired driving kills at least 300 people on UK roads every year.
In the survey of 1,000 drivers, 7% of respondents (14% male, 2% female) admitted to actually “falling asleep” at the wheel, and almost half (49%) admitted to driving after less than five hours’ sleep, which Barke says is “not nearly enough” for safe driving.
Brake also says that many drivers are not aware of the real dangers of head nodding which is also called “micro-sleeping”.
Julie Townsend, deputy chief executive of Brake, 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.”
Brake is calling for a national audit of rest areas and crash barriers on motorways and trunk roads to ensure that there is adequate provision for drivers to rest regularly, and to minimise the consequences of crashes caused by tired drivers.
The charity is also calling on the Government to run more education campaigns warning of the dangers of driving tired, and explaining what drivers can do to prevent tired driving crashes.