A crash in France may have been caused by the drivers lack of sleep.
The driver was a British father who was taking his two young children abroad and during the holiday they suffered a fatal crash that resulted in all three of them being killed. French accident investigated have said that the crash may have been caused by the fathers lack of sleep and that he may have fallen asleep behind the wheel or that he was distracted by something that resulted in him veering off the road. There were no other vehicles involved.
It is a common thing for drivers to knowingly do, but fortunately such terrible consequences are few and far between. Many reasons are to blame for this sort of thing to be on the rise, including long working hours, commutes that are over an hour away, the endlessness of the 24 hours a day 7 days a week culture that found almost everywhere.
Boredom is another contributing factors, whether it is down to congestion or repetitive motorway drives, it wont come as a shock to many that drowsy driving is now a regular occurrence for most daily drivers.
Many claim to suffer with the driving version of sleep walking, known as sleep driving. The condition was used by pop star Tulisa Contostavlos who is said to have claimed mitigation after pleading guilty to crashing her Ferrari 458 Spider into another car whilst driving on the wrong side of the road.
There are also a host of medical reasons that can be responsible for an increased likelihood of falling asleep at the wheel, such as sleep apnoea and narcolepsy, both of which have to be reported to the DVLA.
However, the majority of people are simply too tired to drive with the suitable levels of awareness and alertness that is needed, but do so anyway. According to a survey of 1,000 UK drivers conducted by time4sleep.co.uk, it revealed that 83% of us have forced ourselves to driver when we are over tired and a worrying 10% doing so on a regular basis.
It should come as no surprise then that nearly 20% of accidents that take place on major road are related to sleep, while research has found that prolonged night time driving can be as hazardous as drink driving. However, there is no breathalyser type gadget to test if you are too tired to drive.
Dr Neil Stanley, an independent sleep consultant, said that the key word to consider is “sleep” rather than “tired”. He said “You can be physically and mentally tired but still drive competently, though it’s not advisable. But you can’t drive when you’re asleep. And if there is danger of falling asleep then you have to take pre-emptive action.”
This can include what is called a “micro sleep” which is when you nod off for a period of between 2 and 30 seconds without realising you have done so or remembering it.
If you are found to have driven tired and not taken the suitable precautions and the result is that your driving falls below the standard of a suitably competent driver then the end outcomes is likely to be an offence, according to Gwyn Lewis, a motoring lawyer.