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Drive Safe: Stay Awake

Sorry to sound like your know-it-all Uncle (unless I am your know-it-all Uncle) but when out in my car I like to drive safe. On the day of writing this I was out early in the morning and witnessed three examples of bad driving within the first couple of miles. This included a woman who pulled across in front of me without recourse to either mirrors or indicators. She was oblivious.

I don’t know what was wrong with these people (apart from the obvious fact that they are cretins). As mentioned it was early. Maybe they were still drowsy from their dank pits or maybe they had been out on the sauce the previous night and hadn’t fully recovered. Who knows; but what I do know is that they could do with some driving refresher courses.

Much is made of speed as an accident catalyst. Certainly excessive speed does cause accidents and deaths but you can’t legislate for stupidity. I contend that many other incidents can be put down to inattention and tiredness and cameras don’t monitor that. Most of us lead busy lives in this fast-moving world and, fair enough, we get tired, yet we soldier on regardless and that’s a mistake.

Official government admonishments tend to fall on deaf ears because we are generally sick of Nanny State but drivers should perhaps pay more attention to advice from motoring organisations who should after all know what they’re talking about. Motorists especially need to be wise to the dangers of fatigue on journeys.

As one such organisation put it, “It is now widely accepted that fatigue is a major contributory factor in road crashes, particularly in the early hours of the morning. Many thousands of collisions occur because of a driver’s reduced ability to respond quickly and safely if a dangerous situation arises”.

If you’re making a long road journey, then it is vital to be properly rested before you set off – and to ensure you build in time for breaks on the way. Statistics show that those most at risk from a fatigue-related collision include young male drivers, shift workers, truck drivers and company car drivers. The bad news for the chaps is that around eighty-five percent of drivers who cause such crashes are male, and more than one third of these are aged under thirty, we are told.

The Highway Code (Yes, it’s still available. It is not compulsory to forget it all after your test.) offers specific advice to reduce the risk of being in a fatigue-related collision. Tips include proper journey planning, avoiding certain medications, the times of day and night to avoid and the importance of overnight stops on long road trips.

It’s not only professional drivers at work who are at increased risk of a tiredness induced crash. Any driver making, say, a long road journey to a holiday destination with fractious kids in the back, is at risk. If you need to drive in the early hours of the morning to catch a flight or meet an appointment with your mind elsewhere then you too are at risk. Plan ahead, avoid booze the night before, stop en route for a rest and you are much more likely to arrive intact. Drive well. Drive safe. Geoff Maxted