A new survey by SmartWitness, a leader in the UK vehicle CCTV market, has found that 1 in every 6 drivers has fallen asleep while driving. Further to this, an additional 42% of the respondents said that they had driven while feeling drowsy and on the verge or at risk of falling of asleep. In all 47% of all surveyed drivers reckon that they had been a danger to themselves and to other road users due to tired driving at least once since they passed their driving test.
Male drivers were found to fair much worse than female drivers. Only 10% of the survey females admitted to falling asleep while driving. On the other hand, 24% of the interviewed admitted to falling asleep while driving.
At 89%, the vast majority of drivers reckon they drive while tired because they have to reach home or work. Moreover, only 48% of the surveyed drivers take the recommended break when they get tired while driving thereby heeding the government’s warning and recommendations.
Used by 48% of all the drivers, opening the car windows is the most popular way of combating tiredness while driving. This is followed by having coffee (at 37%), chewing gun (at 24%), turning up their radio (at 16%) and turning the car heater cold (at 12%).
The survey found that 47% of the respondents did not get the recommended 7-8 hours of sleep every night. Furthermore, 85% of the respondents reckon that they had at an average of one bad night’s sleep per week. Notwithstanding their bad night’s sleep, the driver had to get behind the wheel 52% of those days. The survey interviewed 1,000 people.
Business Drivers More Susceptible to Driving Fatigued
Business drivers tend to be more susceptible to driving while fatigued due to ever increasingly long working hours and hectic schedules. It is estimated that 1 in every 5 driver deaths every year is mainly caused by fatigue. Furthermore, collisions related to tiredness are likely to cause three times more fatalities or cause serious life-altering injuries due to the high speed involved and the lack of avoidance action.
SmartWitness has devised a new monitoring system that recognises when the driver’s eyes are not on the road and thereafter sends an audible sound to alert him or her. The DDC100, a 7 cm tall by 8 cm long unit is designed for dashboard installation on HGVs, cars, or vans. It makes use of facial recognition technology to determine when the driver is not looking at the road for more than three seconds.
When the driver does not get his or her eyes back to the road, the audible alert is initiated. At the same time, an alert can also be sent out to the fleet manager to indicate that their driver is fatigued. The DDC100 is also able to detect when a driver is distracted while driving. For instance, it can detect when a driver is distracted by a mobile device.
HGV drivers are made aware of these risks as part of their HGV driver training qualifications. The course covers the importance of health and safety and how to prevent physical risks such as fatigue from occurring.
Driver Fatigue One of the Main Cause of Drive Deaths
Paul Singh, SmartWitness chief executive reckons that driver fatigue is one of the main killers on the road. As such, we need to be doing more to raise awareness of this major road safety threat.
He further reckons the increased delivery schedule pressure that has arisen with increased internet purchases has also increased the pressure that drivers are under. Drivers are now increasingly carrying on even when they are drowsy and at risk of falling asleep. This poses a grave danger to other road users, much the same as using a mobile phone or drink driving.
He further says that employers should play a role in implementing technologies that help them spot when their drivers are fatigued and at risk of falling asleep while driving.
SmartWitness also offers their new SmartGuard system for their fleet of clients. This product entails real-time driver monitoring by professionals at a call centre who pick-up problems, including fatigue, and deal with them before a serious incident arises.
Drivers under SmartGuard watch are monitored using various telematics indicators such as tailgating, abrupt braking, and driver distraction, a new telematics made possible by the DDC100. In all, this service and the monitoring device allow fleet managers to pinpoint problems the divers have and adjust accordingly, right from the training stage.