Half of men fall asleep while driving, survey finds

Have you ever nodded off at the wheel?
Have you ever nodded off at the wheel?
Credit: Brake

Driving tired carries similar risks to driving drunk. But sleeping at the wheel is common, with men by far the worst offenders.

In a survey of 1,000 drivers, British road safety charity Brake found that 45 percent of men admitted “microsleeps” of up to 30 seconds while driving. The figure for women was 22 percent. A further 14 percent of male drivers have slept for longer periods behind the wheel, while just 2 percent of women had done the same.

An estimated one in six fatal road crashes result from tiredness. These typically involve vehicles veering off the road or a driver failing to brake.

“Men are much more likely to take risks at the wheel such as setting off on journeys without enough sleep, or trying to push through if they feel drowsy,” Ellen Booth, senior campaigns officer at Brake, told Metro. “We see this trend across the board when it comes to road safety.”

Booth believes “cultural and biological” factors explain why men take more risks. Over 90 percent of those convicted for dangerous driving in Britain are male, while a recent US study found that men caused 80 percent of crashes. Researchers are concerned that tiredness is adding to the trend.

“Men feel pressure to work harder and longer in this economic climate, with more shift work and driving time,” says Dr. Louise Reyner of the Sleep Research Centre at Loughborough University, UK.

Brake are calling for more education to ensure that drivers sleep enough and take regular breaks, as well as an audit of roads to guarantee rest areas. In the US, the state of New Jersey has gone further by making tired driving a criminal offence. Another possible solution may come from technology, with devices in development that aim to keep drivers awake.

Which gender drives better?

  • 17 percent more men drink alcohol and drive
  • 4 percent more women use seatblets in passenger cars
  • Men 5 times more likely to be killed in a crash
  • Women pay an average 9 percent less on car insurance

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