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One in five fall asleep behind the wheel

Published: 11:07AM Wednesday December 07, 2011 Source: ONE News

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One in five New Zealand drivers admitted to falling asleep while driving, a poll has found.

The 2011 AA Insurance Drivers Index, a poll of 3,550 Kiwi drivers, found that 26% of male drivers and 15% of female driver nodded off while driving.

Fatigue-related accidents are increasing every year, according to AA Insurance claims data.

The average cost of a driver fatigue related collision claim is now $7,989 up from $6,668 in 2010.

The biggest group of fatigue related claims was made by males aged 18 to 29 (10.6%), closely followed by males aged 30 to 39 (10.4%). The third largest group was females aged 40 to 49 (10.1%).

"There is a concerning upward trend in driver fatigue claims," said Martin Fox, Head of Operations for AA Insurance.

"We estimate that driver fatigue insurance claims are costing the industry around $4.8 million a year and that figure is rising."

Males aged 70 and over made the most expensive driver fatigue claims, averaging $11,787.

The Drivers Index revealed that males were more likely to not admit to being tired and saw an increase of 14% in drivers who said they were unlikely to stop and rest if tired.

"Customers say that before the accident they were feeling tired but thought they were still capable of driving," Fox said.

"However, following an accident the driver feels confused and unable to recall those few seconds leading up to the accident. Many drivers also admit to feeling embarrassed, saying they should have known better."

It found fatigue claims were common among shift workers, who often finish late at night or early in the morning on a revolving basis, while claims were also received from drivers suffering from the flu or feeling sick.