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Wednesday, 27 March, 2002, 16:18 GMT
Tales of fatigue at wheel
Scene from new government campaign
The campaign warns tired motorists not to drive
As the government launches a hard-hitting road safety campaign to warn against the deadly consequences of falling asleep at the wheel, BBC News Online looks at driver's experiences of falling asleep at the wheel.

Gareth Jones, from the UK, said he almost lost his life when he fell asleep driving home for Christmas.

"I started my journey very early as I was keen to beat the Christmas traffic," he said.


I woke up upside down in a field.

CH Alexander, UK

"I lost control my car left the road and rolled over several times leaving me with a very bad head injury. I almost missed Christmas as a result."

David Forster, from Switzerland, said he was forced to have a break when he found himself veering off the road.

He told BBC News Online: "I was driving back from Brussels to Lausanne during bad weather and awoke to find the car going up a slip way and off onto the grass verge."

Mr Forster said he stopped at the next hotel and lived to learn a valuable lesson.

HAVE YOUR SAY

"It has since taught me that anything over six hours requires more than a 20 minute rest every two hours," he said.

Mr Alexander, from the UK, also learned a lesson the hard way and it is one he still remembers 45 years on.

"I fell asleep after 24 hours driving over 36 hours. I woke up upside down in a field. Very fortunately I was unhurt but I learned my lesson," he said.

Now he says he and his wife usually limit their driving to five hours at a time, with two coffee breaks and an overnight stop.

'Wrong side'

"Now older and greyer we have learned wisdom," he added.

Nigel Bryant, from the UK, only knew he had fallen asleep at the wheel when his passenger told him.

He said: "The first time it happened, I did not really believe my passenger when he said that I had just been the wrong side of a lamp post.

"But I knew I was tired so he drove the rest of the way (uninsured) in my father's car. I never told my father."

Since then he has learned to recognise the signs of fatigue and to take a break as necessary.

He added: "The worst time seems to be in the afternoon and I'm not sure that the distance is entirely relevant as I have on occasions started to feel bad within half an hour of starting out."

Break

Howard Ward took immediate action when he felt sleepy on the motorway.

"The next junction was many miles away so I pulled onto the hard shoulder where I fell instantly asleep," he said.

Mr Ward said he was eventually awoken by a police patrol driver.

"He was extremely unpleasant, threatening me with prosecution. He made me drive on even though I said that I did not feel safe to do so," he said.

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The BBC's Simon Montague
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Road Safety Minister David Jameson
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See also:

05 Apr 01 | Health
Drink and tiredness cause crashes
20 Feb 02 | Scotland
Experts study risks of dozy drivers
13 Dec 01 | England
Driver fatigue: A big killer
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