Around 84% of UK motorists would back the introduction of new “tiredness tests”, similar to existing roadside drink and drug checks.
June’s Startline Used Car Tracker research shows 35% agree that fatigue is an important road safety issue with 10% admitting to having almost fallen asleep at the wheel and 63% saying that they have driven following little sleep.
A team of researchers led by Clare Anderson, a professor at the Turner Institute for Brain and Mental Health at Monash University,Australia identified five biomarkers in the blood that can determine if an individual has been awake for 24 hours or more with 99% accuracy. Further developments may pinpoint how many hours a driver has slept and leave them or their employers open to prosecution.
Paul Burgess, CEO at Startline Motor Finance, said, “The idea for sleep driving tests is being pioneered in Australia and could be available within two years, using biomarkers to show whether someone has had any sleep during the previous 24 hours. With fatigue being a factor in one in five road accidents in the UK roads, they could have a very real impact on safety.
“What is perhaps surprising is the very high degree of backing for the idea among motorists. We think this suggests that drivers already recognise fatigue as an issue on our roads and recognise that the new test could play a part in helping the problem. It appears that any legislators interested in the concept would be pushing at an open door.”
The Startline Used Car Tracker also showed that many motorists are actively managing their own fatigue when driving – 43% would postpone a journey if they hadn’t slept enough and 13% say they often take breaks when driving a long distance. Just 3% don’t believe fatigue is a problem on the roads.
Paul added, “These findings show that many people are already being responsible about fatigue when it comes to getting behind the wheel and the number of people taking risks with sleep driving appears to be comparatively few. However, the new test could serve as a valuable deterrent to those who are taking to the roads without sufficient sleep.”