Nearly three-quarters of motorists admit to driving while tired over the past 12 months, despite the fact that one in every five fatal crashes iscaused by drivers falling asleep at the wheel.
That compares with 46% who admitted to driving tired six years ago. Road safety charity Brake surveyed 800 drivers and discovered:
• 74% admit to driving while tired in past 12 months
• 9% drove tired in the past week
• 73% drive for three or more hours at a time, without taking a break
• 70% prefer to open a window to stave off tiredness, rather than take a break
Ellen Booth, Brake's campaigns officer, said: 'It's terrifying how complacent drivers are about tiredness at the wheel.
'It takes only a couple of seconds of sleep to cause a fatal crash, yet millions of drivers are regularly getting behind the wheel while tried, and most dont know how to deal with sleepiness on a long journey.'
How to stay alert and safe
There are many simple, practical steps you can take to avoid fatigue and stay safe. Here are some of the most important.
• Plan for a good night's sleep
If you have a long journey ahead of you, try to get a little extra shut-eye the night before, and don't take stimulants such as a caffeinated drink in the evening.
• Don't drive through the night
Even if you slept well the previous night, fatigue will inevitably set in during the early hours and have an adverse effect on your driving.
• Plan regular breaks
Stop at least once every two hours for a good 15 minutes. Much less than this and you won't feel the benefit.
• Stop if you feel sleepy
If it's impractical for you to end your journey when you realise you are tired, find a safe place to stop, drink some coffee, and then take a nap for 15-20 minutes. If you still feel sleepy, stop and get some sleep it's the only long-term cure for tiredness.