It’s no secret that a lack of sleep and driving are a recipe for disaster but it was still one of the more common causes of the 135,480 casualties last year.

It’s believed that somewhere between 10-20% of crashes are caused by driver fatigue and one in eight drivers have even admitted to falling asleep at the wheel

With so much risk of tired driving, it begs the question as to why so many Brits do it. Well, this is often due to a lack of awareness, which is why we’ve put together a guide on the effects of sleep deprivation and how age can impact this. 

We’ve used data collected by used BMW specialists, Big Motoring World for this and hope it will help increase your knowledge in the area, so you don’t consider getting behind the wheel when you’re tired in the future. Read on to find out more. 

What does a lack of sleep do to your driving ability?

If you get less than the recommended amount of sleep before you drive, then you could be putting your and other people’s lives in danger. Here’s why:

  • Your reaction times are slower
  • You may misjudge the width of your vehicle when cornering or fitting in spaces
  • You’re more likely to drive with more risk such as speeding 
  • You may fall asleep at the wheel, losing all control 

With so many risks to driving while tired, Big Motoring World’s study found that almost 50% of respondents thought sleep deprivation while driving is just as dangerous as drink-driving and 58% of drivers want punishments for tired drivers to be the same as drunk drivers. 

Which drivers are most likely to drive while sleep-deprived? 

According to Big Motoring World’s study here’s what the statistics for sleep-deprived drivers look like:

  • Driving without sleep happens most in Belfast with 75% of respondents admitting to doing it
  • The age group most likely to do it is 25 to 34 year olds with 76% admitting to it
  • Women are more likely to drive without the right amount of sleep than men with 56% of female respondents admitting to this

What are the punishments for sleep-deprived driving?

While many people believe the punishments should be stronger for this offence, the following are potential punishments if you’re found guilty of dangerous driving due to a lack of sleep:

  • Between three and 11 penalty points if found guilty of dangerous driving 
  • Prison time if you cause injury or death 
  • Fines of up to £5,000

How can you ensure you’re awake enough to drive?

  • Get the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep every night 
  • Take a break for at least 15 minutes for every two hours you drive 
  • Change drivers every few hours on long drives 
  • Set off earlier in the day
  • Have a caffeinated drink, if you can have caffeine

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