People who suffer from the common sleep disorder, Obstructive Sleep Apnoea, of which the most significant sign is loud and heavy, snoring, are seven times more likely to have a road accident than other drivers.
The research shows that up to 11% of drivers admit to having fallen asleep at the wheel.
In sleep apnoea the throat temporarily closes during sleep causing the snorer to wake violently owing to a lack of oxygen. It is a condition that is more common in overweight people. It causes extreme fatigue because the continual awaking of the sufferer results in many hours of sleep being lost.
According to the DOE, Transport and Regions ‘valuation of the benefits of prevention of road accidents and casualties’ they estimated that the cost to society of a fatal accident was £1,250,000 and that was in 1999.
3,201 died in UK car accidents last year and the cost of those who suffered brain damaged, was much, much greater.
Crashes resulting from drowsy driving are easy to deduce as they leave no brake marks.
We often feel tired when driving yet just shrug off the feeling and plough on – which is not only obtuse and thoughtless, but also potentially fatal. It causes more road deaths than alcohol.
The Scottish Intercollegiate Guidelines Network, published in June 2003, provided some horrific statistics.
Sleepiness at the wheel, or drowsy driving, is said to be the cause of about 22% of road accidents on major highways (where accidents happen at high speed and no signs of any avoidance – e.g. braking – being taken). In fact it’s the cause of more road deaths than alcohol. A UK poll shows that up to 11% of drivers admit to having fallen asleep at the wheel.
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