Police investigator blames tiredness for most motorway crashes
19 August 2009

Driver fatigue rather than speed is the single biggest cause of collisions on Britain’s motorways, according to a top police accident investigator.

Gary Baldwin, a forensic collision investigator for Thames Valley Police since 1988, says a lack of education is the main reason why fatigue is such a problem on Britain’s motorways.

“It may sound silly, but people just aren’t aware of how dangerous it is to drive with your eyes shut,” he said. “People think they will be all right, that if they wind down the windows or turn up the radio the tiredness will go away, but that just isn’t the case.”

His revelations follow the launch of a joint Autocar/AA campaign, which aims to improve the standard of driving on Britain’s roads and wants motorway driving included as part of the driving test.

Baldwin said driving while fatigued extends normal reaction times to the levels of an “anaesthetised slug”.

Speed isn’t necessarily a big cause of motorway collisions, according to Baldwin. “We all do roughly the same speeds on a motorway so it is rarely a cause of crashes,” he said. “Speed can be more of a factor off the motorway, but on it it’s not really an issue.”

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The number of people killed on Britain’s major roads, including motorways, fell last year from 1590 to 1390, a drop of 13 per cent, according to figures from the Department for Transport.

Mark Tisshaw

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