Warning to motorists after deaths on the roads: don’t drive tired

Tired driver. Photo: Bill Smith

Tired driver. Photo: Bill Smith - Credit: Bill Smith - Archant

While there are regular clamp downs on drink driving with proactive patrols and advice campaigns, a large number of tragic collisions on the regions roads are caused by tiredness. DOMINIC GILBERT explores the risk factors.

Dr Ronak Patel

Dr Ronak Patel - Credit: Archant

We are all more conscious of how we drive than we used to be, with much greater awareness of the effects of drink and drugs on our abilities behind the wheel.

But all too often circumstances mean people take the risk of getting in their cars while drowsy, which can have awful consequences.

It is thought that between one fifth and two thirds of serious injury collisions or those resulting in death have tiredness as a factor.

The statistics show there have been five fatal collisions in Norfolk and Suffolk since July 2015 where tiredness was considered a contributing factor.

In the county there were a total of 29 collisions which could be attributed to lack of sleep with 15 causing slight injury, 11 serious injury, and three fatal.

In Suffolk the number of collisions over the last 12 months where tiredness was a contributing factor came to 18, with 13 causing slight injury, three serious injury and two fatal.

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Chief Inspector Kris Barnard, head of Roads Policing in Norfolk and Suffolk, said drivers needed to be vigilant about how weary they felt.

He said: 'People have a responsibility to themselves and other road users to take a break if they are feeling tired. Tiredness can cause a collision and have tragic consequences.

'If they are feeling effects of tiredness then they should pull over where it's safe and break their journey properly. Drivers need to take a proper rest too, opening the window or turning up the radio won't work for long.'

Warnings on the subject have been made for years, most notably from former coroner for Norfolk William Armstrong.

He issued a stark message to motorists not to drive while tired after Norwich dentist Vrushali Patel died in a crash on the A47 in 2011, having not slept the night before.

Another driver, Michael Brooker, from Leicester, also died following the crash on May 3.

Mr Armstrong said at the time: 'I have a duty to send out a strong message and warn that people must not drive on the road when tired.

'The message must be if people feel tired, they must not drive. Driving while tired is dangerous and irresponsible, and can be fatal.'

Advice issued by Norfolk Constabulary includes: Plan your journey to include a 15-minute break every two hours. Don't start a long trip if you're already tired. Remember the risks if you have to get up unusually early to start a long drive. Try to avoid long trips between midnight and 6am when you're likely to feel sleepy anyway. If you start to feel sleepy, find a safe place to stop - not the hardshoulder of a motorway. Drink two cups of coffee or a high-caffeine drink and have a rest for 10 to 15 minutes to allow time for the caffeine to kick in.

Remember, the only real cure for sleepiness is proper sleep. A caffeine drink or a nap is a short-term solution that will only allow you to keep driving for a short time.

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