Millions of Britons Fall Asleep at the Wheel

As reported by the Daily Mail, a survey carried out by the road safety charity, Brake, has revealed that more than four million motorists in Britain may have fallen asleep at the wheel in the past year alone. 
The survey of 1,000 drivers showed that one in eight motorists fell asleep for a period of between 2 and 30 seconds whilst operating a vehicle in the past 12 months. If the results of the survey are accurate and representative of the entire population, more than four million motorists have nodded off while driving in the last year. 
Brake's survey, which was carried out in partnership with Cambridge Weight Plan, also revealed that 29 per cent of drivers continue with their journey despite feeling tired or drowsy. It ought to go without saying that feeling drowsy behind the wheel can result in tragedy: falling asleep for just a second or two can cause a fatal accident, while drowsiness quite obviously decreases a driver's response time and alertness. 
Twenty-five per cent of respondents admitted to starting a journey whilst already feeling drowsy, suggesting the perceived importance of reaching a destination is given greater weight by drivers than that of arriving there safely (or at all). No driver should embark on a journey unless they are sufficiently rested. 
Whiplash compensation claims arising from accidents caused by tired or sleeping drivers are not uncommon in the UK. Driving whilst drowsy is arguably an act of gross negligence, as the risk of falling asleep behind the wheel is one that is rarely, if ever, acceptable.
Injury solicitors director at Brake, Julie Townsend, said: "Tiredness at the wheel kills. Driving a vehicle is a huge responsibility that must be taken seriously. It's a matter of life and death."  Ms Townsend's comments should not be dismissed by those who believe Brake to be another limb of the so-called 'nanny state.'  According to official statistics, driver fatigue accounts for around 20 per cent of all road traffic accidents, which result in thousands of deaths and serious injuries every year.
Home of the worst road accidents in the UK have been caused by driver fatigue. In 2001, 37-year-old Gary Hart fell asleep at the wheel of his Land Rover, which subsequently left the M62 and came to rest on train tracks outside Selby. Thirteen people died and 75 others were seriously injured when a passenger train hit Mr Hart's vehicle before piling into an oncoming freight train.

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