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YAWNING IS A NATURAL WARNING TO TAKE A BREAK

1 May 2008

The Department for Transport (DfT) has launched its latest road safety campaign, which is mainly being targeted at people who drive for work. According to the Department for Transport one in five crashes are caused by tired drivers. However, people often insisted in carrying on with their journeys, despite receiving natural warning signals.

A recent YouGov poll had revealed that three quarters of motorists opened a window to keep themselves awake on long journeys. A few resorted to more unusual methods, such as shaking their heads vigorously (4%) and even slapping themselves in the face (3%). More than a quarter (26%) of the 1,500 people questioned had driven for four or more hours without a break, and 4% for more than seven hours without a break. It also showed that only 18% of motorists always took a yawn as a sign to pull over.

Dr Neil Stanley, a sleep expert from the Clinical Trials and Research Unit at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital has advised that people read a yawn all wrong - they often mistake the energising effect that comes immediately after as a sign they can carry on, but tests prove this is not the case.

Yawning quite simply means you're on the road to falling asleep, so if you're yawning behind the wheel it really is time to pull over.

The YouGov survey also showed that just one in five (22%) of drivers always planned for breaks in their journeys, while more than half (54%) at least occasionally tried to "beat their journey time" on a trip they had done before.

Source: AIRSO