Date Published: March 26th, 2019

Throughout the time you’ve been driving whether you’re a new driver or an experienced driver, at some point, it is likely that you have driven whilst tired. This may not seem like a big thing for someone who has been driving for a while and you may think there is no alternative but driving tired can be extremely dangerous sometimes resulting in a crash. This makes roads more dangerous not only for you but also for other drivers and pedestrians.

How driving while tired is dangerous

There are a few scary statistics that can explain how dangerous driving while tired can really be. A study found that 1 in 6 crashes that resulted in injury or death are caused by driver fatigue[1]. Drivers are 20 times more likely to fall asleep behind the wheel at 6am than at 10am[2]. Around 40% of fatigue-related crashes involve commercial vehicle drivers, which is scary as some of the worst injuries in such accidents are caused by the largest vehicles on the roads[3].

Drivers are naturally more likely to be sleepy from 2am to 6am and from 2pm to 4pm[4]. In 2015, the Government released figures showing that driver fatigue was a contributing factor in only 4% of road fatalities and 2% of road casualties[5] but these figures are thought to have been massively under-estimated as a study in 2004 found that 1 in 6 crashes that resulted in injury or death on motorways or A roads were caused by tired drivers[3]. The under-estimation is thought to have been because of how difficult it is to distinguish whether fatigue was a factor in a crash as unlike alcohol or drugs, police officers or ambulance crews cannot test for it when they arrive at the scene of a crash.

Research has found that dual carriageways and motorways are the most common places for drivers to crash due to driving while tired[3]. Most crashes that are related to tired driving are due to the driver falling asleep at the wheel which will cause them to drive off the road until they crash into something nearby or crash into the car in front of them[2]. These crashes will be at high speed due to the driver not being able to break before impact, this then increases the chance of serious injury or fatality.

Even if the tired driver does not fall asleep at the wheel they are still a huge risk to themselves and other drivers as well as pedestrians. When tired our reaction times can become slower and some research suggests that driving tired can be just as dangerous as drunk driving.

How to avoid driving tired

The statistics are shocking. Driving should be taken seriously regardless of your experience behind the wheel. There are several ways to minimize the risk of accidents caused by driver fatigue.
If you wake up for work feeling extra tired on Monday morning think about taking public transport to your workplace instead of driving.

If you know you’re going to be out late, even if you aren’t going to be drinking, you should think about alternative ways of getting there and back, such as public transport or taking a taxi.

Try and get the best night’s sleep you can when you know you have a long drive ahead of you the next morning. Drinking a soothing drink before bed, limiting your screen time to stop an hour before you want to go to sleep or reading a book to help you nod off are great ways to ensure you will be well rested when you wake up.

If you get tired while driving, it is recommended that you pull over at a safe place and have a little nap. Keep in mind that you will most likely still be drowsy in the first 15 minutes after you wake up. A good way to lose the drowsiness is to get out of the car and have a little walk. You can also use the time to do a quick inspection of your vehicle.


  1. https://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/20100202201109/http:/www.dft.gov.uk/pgr/roadsafety/research/rsrr/theme3/sleeprelatedcrashesonsection.pdf
  2. http://www.pacts.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/24th-Westminster-Lecture-Complete-Document.pdf
  3. https://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/20100202201109/http:/www.dft.gov.uk/pgr/roadsafety/research/rsrr/theme3/sleeprelatedcrashesonsection.pdf
  4. https://scholar.google.com/citations?view_op=view_citation&hl=nl&user=IUoDdMkAAAAJ&citation_for_view=IUoDdMkAAAAJ:4TOpqqG69KYC
  5. https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/reported-road-casualties-great-britain-annual-report-2015