Why do people fall asleep while driving

At the start of the campaign Beware of microsleep! the German Road Safety Council started a Kantar-Emnid survey (2016). One result: Among 1,000 car drivers, around 26 percent have at least once asleep behind the wheel of their car. That can be fatal. For this reason, the campaign is primarily aimed at everyone who drives a car, but also at other risk groups.

Motorists are particularly at risk

The survey results show that car drivers are very much at risk of falling asleep behind the wheel: They often underestimate the risk and often take too few breaks. Over 50 percent only take a break after three to four hours or later. However, you should always take a break every two hours, especially when you first see signs of tiredness. This is why the campaign aims to make car drivers aware of the need to get enough sleep before each drive and to take regular breaks while driving.

Older drivers are also at risk of falling into microsleep: Their sleep changes over their lifespan, they sleep less overall and are therefore more often tired during the day. Therefore, older people are also made aware of the relevance of getting enough sleep before every journey and restful short sleep phases during the day or regular breaks while driving to compensate for longer waking phases at night.

Truck drivers should be extra vigilant

Another Kantar-Emnid survey (2017) by the DVR and the German Society for Sleep Research and Sleep Medicine (DGSM) also shows that truck drivers are also at risk of falling asleep: They sit behind the wheel for a long time, often driving monotonous routes back, often have irregular sleep times. That is why they sometimes have to struggle with boredom, but above all with fatigue. 85 percent believe they can foresee when to fall asleep at the wheel. However, falling asleep cannot be prevented by extensive experience or sheer willpower. Therefore, the Kamapgne reminds truck drivers of their responsibility and duty to comply with the legally applicable driving and rest times. The campaign also makes them aware of the risk of sleeping sickness, especially sleep apnea.

Transport companies in particular have a significant influence on truck drivers. Therefore, they are mainly informed about the necessity of a realistic route or delivery planning based on the time required for driving and possible congestion forecasts. Companies are also brought closer to the risk of fatigue and the consequences of microsleep, the relevance of adequate sleep and restful breaks.