Survey Finds 17% of Drivers Have Fallen Asleep While Driving

A recent SmartWitness survey has uncovered some disturbing data: one in six drivers admit they have fallen asleep at the wheel while driving. An additional 42% admit to driving while feeling drowsy and at risk of falling asleep.

47% of those participating in the survey confess to being a danger to themselves and/or other drivers because they drove while being tired.

Tired driving is a bigger issue with men than women.

According to the survey, only 10% of women admit to falling asleep while driving compared to 24% of men. When asked why they drive knowing they are too tired to do so, a whopping 89% say they do it because their home life and their work requires it.

Only 48% follow the advice recommended by the government to pull over and take a break when tired.

Instead, most tired drivers turn to other means to combat tiredness such as opening the car window while driving(48%), drinking coffee while driving(37%), chewing gum or eating(24%), playing loud music(16%) and switching the heater to air conditioning(12%).

To combat the issue of tired driving, SmartWitness has developed a driving aid that detects when a driver’s eyes are not watching the road. When this happens, the SmartWitness device issues an alarm to wake the driver up. The compact DDC100 unit measures just under 8 cm long and is approximately 7 cm tall. This small size allows it to fit easily on the dashboard of most cars, trucks and HGVs.

This device relies on facial recognition software to monitor the position of the driver’s eyes. If the device notices the driver’s eyes haven’t looked at the road in more than 3 seconds, it sends out an audible alarm to wake the driver. If the device is connected to a fleet management system, the fleet manager will also receive an alert letting him or her know the driver is fatigued. The DDC100 also detects when drivers are distracted for other reasons, such as using a mobile phone while driving.

SmartWitness Survey Stats

According to a new SmartWitness survey of 1000 drivers, 17% of drivers have fallen asleep while driving.

The survey also found that 47% of those participating in the survey did not get 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night as recommended.

Another 85% admit to having at least one bad night of sleep each week on average. 52% of those polled admit to driving a vehicle on half of the days they experienced a bad night of sleep.

Due to hectic schedules and long working hours, business drivers are more susceptible when it comes to the issue of tired driving than non-business drivers.

According to statistics, as many as 20% of driver deaths are caused by driver fatigue.

Because tired driving collisions typically involve high rates of speed and little to no attempt at accident avoidance, fatigue-related collisions are three times more likely to result in death or serious injury as non-fatigue related accidents.

Because tired-driving plays such a huge role in traffic fatalities and serious injuries, it is important that awareness is raised to alert drivers to the threat this issue poses.

Business Driver Particularly At Risk

It is especially important to raise this issue with companies who rely on business deliveries and travelling salesman who often find themselves driving while tired just to meet obligations placed on them by their employer. Professional drivers like those with HGV Cat C licence are especially at risk as their job involves long drives at unsociable hours. This issue is as serious as driving while intoxicated or while distracted by texting or talking on your mobile phone.

The seriousness of this issue is what motivated SmartWitness to develop the DDC100 device.

SmartWitness has also developed a system called Smartguard that allows fleet drivers to be monitored in real time by professional call centre personnel who are trained to pick up on potential issues like fatigued driving, hopefully in time to avoid a serious incident.

The SmartGuard system monitors several driver behaviours that could indicate driver issues such as abrupt braking and tailgating.

This system also allows fleet managers to monitor other driver related problems that may indicate their drivers require more training in regards to the issue in question. By making sure drivers get this additional training when problems are indicated, potential incidents could be avoided in the future.