Driving in a fatigued state has contributed to more road accidents in Great Britain than those impaired by taking drugs, according to new research.
The study found 20% of road accidents on major roads are fatigue related compared to 18% involving impairment by drug taking.
Commercial vehicles accounted for 40% of those accidents, highlighting the fact that many employees could be lacking sleep or working long hours.
Figures for 2015 provided by Department for Transport show fatigue was a contributory factor in 68 deaths on the roads of Great Britain - one more than those who have been impaired by illicit or medicinal drugs.
435 people were seriously injured on the roads by a contributory factor of fatigue compared to 350 drug related incidents and 2,279 people had minor injuries against 997 casualties by drug impaired driving.
As of March 2015 it is illegal to drive if you are either unfit to do so because you’re on legal or illegal drugs or if you have above a specified level of an illegal drug in your blood stream.
Those caught face a minimum 12-month driving ban, up to six months in prison, an unlimited fine and a criminal record.
And now there are calls for sleep deprivation to be given tougher punishments along similar lines to drugs and alcohol.
According to leading comparison site scrapcarcomparison.co.uk, thousands of cars are scrapped each year due to fatigue related crashes and experts are astonished more isn’t being done to combat this.
“When you think one in five crashes is fatigue related, this has to make people sit up and take notice,” said a spokesperson from scrapcarcomparison.co.uk.
"Just as there are rules for consuming an excessive amount of alcohol, should there be a case for restrictions on driving where the driver has had less than set minimum hours of sleep in the past 24 hours?”