SOME four million drivers have momentarily fallen asleep behind the wheel, reveals new research by IAM RoadSmart, the UK's largest independent road safety charity.
The newly-published results will set alarm bells ringing amongst road safety experts as even the briefest lapse in concentration when driving can have devastating consequences.
At 70mph a car travels more than 100 feet every second.
The study paints a worrying picture of fatigue among motorists as one-in-10 surveyed admitted to momentarily closing their eyes because they were so tired.
Furthermore, more than half of drivers also said they were very concerned about fatigue when driving long distances.
With more than 40 million licence holders registered, this equates to over 20 million motorists.
Neil Greig, IAM RoadSmart director of policy and research, said: "Fatigue behind the wheel is a very serious problem, perhaps more concerning than previously thought of.
"It is shocking to think a potential four million drivers have closed their eyes behind the wheel because they were so tired, even if it was just for a short time. The potential carnage that could result from even one accident doesn't bear thinking about."
Other results from the research also highlighted that millions of drivers have succumbed to tiredness when driving, with one-in-10 admitting they had hit the rumble strip, while four-in-10 had turned down the heating or rolled down the windows in order to stop them from being tired.
On a slightly more positive note, around a quarter of drivers had pulled over for a rest and/or a coffee.
Mr Greig added: "Driving a long distance needs pre-planning to ensure there are plenty of available rest places and to make sure there's enough time to complete the journey if delays are encountered. Never drive for longer than two hours without a break and take particular care if driving when you would normally be asleep. This is even more important as the country reopens after the pandemic and not all facilities may be available yet.
"Drivers can then concentrate on staying alert behind the wheel rather than staving off tiredness by trying to reach their end destination without adequate rest breaks."