Irish Drivers Face Higher Risk of Accidents This Summer Due to Fatigue

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Irish insurance broker, Chill, reveals that Irish drivers face a heightened risk of accidents this summer due to fatigue. 

Its study reveals over a third (34%) admitted to narrowly avoiding an accident due to their own drowsiness. Despite this, over a third (36%) plan to skip rest stops on summer road trips this year, even when feeling too tired to drive.

It’s estimated that driver fatigue is a contributory factor in as many as one in five fatal crashes in Ireland every year, according to An Garda Síochána.

Analysing data from Irish drivers, nearly half (45%) confess to feeling so drowsy behind the wheel that they risked falling asleep, and almost three in five (57%) report regularly feeling exhausted when driving.

Examining seasonality and its impact, over a third (34%) state they feel more fatigued driving in summer compared to other months. With over two-fifths (43%) reporting the heat itself as a significant contributor to drowsiness, and a quarter (25%) say dehydration levels cause them to feel more fatigued whilst driving in summer.

Despite the data showing a heightened risk of drowsy driving in Ireland, only 34% say they prioritise napping or resting when driving tired. Instead, many admit to resorting to unsafe methods like opening car windows (60%), playing loud music (42%), consuming sugary drinks (49%), and even talking on the phone (14%).

Analysing the additional driver challenges the summer months bring, over half of Irish drivers (54%) identified windscreen glare from the sun as a major distraction, further compromising their ability to focus.

The study looks at driver fatigue levels on a city scale, analysing data from people who live closest to and in Irish cities, revealing the locations with the highest number of drowsy drivers. Topping the list is Waterford, where an alarming 54% of drivers confessed to feeling so drowsy behind the wheel that they risked falling asleep.

Why Does Summer Increase Drowsy Driving?

Ian O’Reilly, Head of Personal Line Sales and Road Safety Expert at Chill said: While fatigue is a year-round threat, several factors unique to summer make it a prime season for drowsy drivers and potential accidents. Hot weather disrupts sleep patterns, dehydration zaps energy, and sun glare can cause dangerous distractions for drivers”.

Ian O’Reilly continued: “To stay safe this summer, plan trips for cooler morning hours whenever possible. If driving at night is unavoidable, prioritise breaks every two hours, even if you feel okay. Get out of the car, walk around, and splash some cool water on your face. A short burst of refreshment can make a world of difference behind the wheel. The Stop, Sip, Sleep method is accepted as best practice, which you should refer to before heading off on your journey”.

 

Rank City Falling Asleep Driving Risk (%) Near Accident Caused By Fatigue (%) Often Drive Fatigued (%) 5 Hours of Sleep (or less per night) (%) Avg Drowsy Driver Score (Overall %)
1 Waterford 54% 41% 54% 38% 47%
2 Cork 47% 34% 50% 47% 45%
3 Dublin 43% 35% 58% 41% 44%
4 Galway 48% 29% 54% 39% 43%
5 Limerick 41% 30% 52% 43% 42%

Topping the list are citizens who live in and closest to Waterford, where an alarming 54% of drivers confessed to feeling so drowsy behind the wheel that they risked falling asleep. This city also boasts the highest percentage of drivers who regularly operate vehicles while fatigued (54%) and those who get less than 5 hours of sleep per night (38%).

Cork, Dublin, Galway, and Limerick follow suit. All four cities report alarming numbers of drivers at risk of falling asleep at the wheel (ranging from 41% to 48%) and often experiencing fatigue while driving (between 50% and 58%).