Fatigue was a factor in one in six crashes in the UK in 2016 that resulted in death or injury on major roads*.
This shocking statistic is being highlighted by Midlands Air Ambulance Charity as part of the service’s Drive4Life campaign. The lifesaving organisation aims to make drivers aware of risks and pitfalls that can heighten their risk of a serious incident on the road.
According to the charity’s corporate partner, TTC Group, which runs speed awareness courses across the UK, elements that contribute to fatigue include the time of day, stress, medication, lack of sleep or irregular sleep patterns, and driving for long periods.
Tired drivers have a reduced reaction time, vigilance, alertness and concentration, all of which are necessary for safe driving. Driving whilst tired can then result in an inability to deal with the unexpected, poor decision making and greater risk taking.
Through research conducted, it has also been found that motorways and dual carriageways are the most common roads for sleep-related crashes – and Midlands Air Ambulance Charity often attends these incidents in the region it covers.
Andy Wheeler, road safety expert at TTC Group, said: “Driver fatigue is a major cause for concern and I would suspect causes more crashes than we realise. We are all leading busier lives, cramming in as much as possible and probably not getting the quality and quantity of sleep our bodies require to function at their optimum.
“Driving requires our full attention, so it is vital that we are alert and free from distractions whenever we get behind the wheel.”
Midlands Air Ambulance Charity’s Drive4Life campaign in partnership with longstanding corporate partner, M6toll, is highlighting the cost of attending RTCs to the charity. Each air ambulance mission costs £2,500, which is funded through the generosity of the communities it serves and local businesses.
Emma Gray, fundraising and marketing director for Midlands Air Ambulance Charity, added: “Road traffic collisions (RTCs) cost the charity £1.68million in 2018, and we are generally dispatched to most severe collisions in our region because of the advanced specialist medical care that we are able to provide at the scene, couple with the speed at which we can transport causalities to hospital.
“With no Government or National Lottery funding, we can only continue to operate with donations from public and local businesses across the Midlands. We are working hard through campaigns like Drive4Life in order to raise awareness of the charity’s work to encourage support for our future lifesaving operations.”
James Hodson, M6toll director of motorway operations and facilities, said: “Taking a break is the best way to refresh and revive yourself on a long drive. Roadchef Norton Canes services on the M6toll offers a quick coffee break for commuters or an overnight stopover for HGV and coach drivers, helping to make sure everyone arrives safely at their destination.”
*Statistic taken from research by Loughborough University.