January 20, 2011

Driving long at night as bad as being behind the wheel drunk

Ever wondered why most of the road accidents occur in the night? It’s because, being behind the wheel for over three hours at night makes motorists as bad as driving under the influence of alcohol, scientists say.

Researchers at Utrecht University in the Netherlands found that the tiredness after a few hours of non-stop driving has the same effect as being over the drink-driving limit.

Even two hours of motorway driving in the dark can affect performance so severely it is the same as having a couple of drinks, they said.

It is estimated that one-fifth of all traffic accidents are due to sleepiness behind the wheel and one in three motorists admits to nodding off while driving at night, the Daily Mail reported.

A study last year by experts at Cardiff University called for newly-qualified drivers to be banned from the roads at night, a move that could save 200 lives a year in Britain and result in 1,700 fewer serious injuries. Similar schemes are already in place in New Zealand, Australia and the US.

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