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Breakfast Wednesday, 27 March, 2002, 07:42 GMT
Tired drivers campaign
Selby
The Selby rail crash was caused by a tired driver
Around three hundred people a year die unecesssarily because of accidents caused by tired drivers according to new research.

Now the government's launching a campaign to try to persuade motorists that driving when they're tired is as dangerous as drink driving.


The warning signs include things like drifting from one lane to another - or drifting towards the central reservation.

Professor Jim Horne
The campaign follows the conviction in February of motorist Gary Hart, on ten counts of causing death by dangerous driving.

He fell asleep at the wheel of his land-rover after spending all night talking to his girlfriend.

Unrealistic deadlines

But researchers say many other people are at risk of falling asleep at the wheel, including salesmen and other business travellers who may be trying to meet unrealistic deadlines.

Professor Jim Horne, of Loughborough University's Sleep Laboratory told Breakfast:

Professor Jim Horne of Loughborough University's Sleep Laboratory
Professor Jim Horne: accidents are worse because people don't brake
"People know how sleepy they are before they fall asleep at the wheel.

"The warning signs include things like drifting from one lane to another - or drifting towards the central reservation.

"With luck, people will wake up suddenly but sometimes they crash.

"The accidents tend to be worse than normal because they hit without braking."

So, are you safe behind the wheel?

Breakfast sent its reporter Max Foster to Loughbourough University's traffic simulator to find out just how difficult it is to drive when you're tired. We also talked to Ken Mitchell, whose son was killed by a lorry driver who fell asleep at the wheel.

To see those interviews, click on the watch/listen box at the top right-hand side.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
BBC's Simon Montague
tired drivers
Ken Mitchell
tells Breakfast how his son was killed by a tired driver
Max Foster
at Loughborough University's sleep lab
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