Will you be safe to drive after your flight?

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With peak holiday season coming up there are likely to be many people driving on the roads who have just disembarked from a flight.

Often return flights arrive in the late evening or early morning and while the drive from the airport to home may only be a couple of hours, many people don’t factor in the full length of the journey from the moment they left their hotel.

It is important to consider the likelihood of driver fatigue when you are considering driving home after a flight from abroad because it has been estimated that 20% of all road accidents on major roads are sleep-related – or more accurately lack of sleep-related – and of these about half are more likely to result in death or serious injury.

Sleepiness reduces reaction time (a critical element of safe driving). It also reduces vigilance, alertness and concentration so that the ability to perform attention-based activities is reduced.

According to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (rospa) the peak times for fatigue-related accidents are in the early hours between 2am and 6am and after lunch between 2pm and 4pm.

Such accidents are more likely on long journeys on monotonous roads such as motorways and after the driver has had less sleep than normal.

So, no matter how anxious you might be to get home quickly, especially if you have a couple of tired and irritable youngsters in the car, it is important to think carefully about whether you are going to be safe to drive.

The questions to consider are what time you checked out of your hotel and then how long did you wait at the airport before boarding the plane?  Are you travelling across time zones?  How long do you have to wait to get through baggage pick-up and customs checks after the plane lands?

Rather than take a risk perhaps consider having a taxi or a friend meet you at the airport and driving you home. Alternatively, consider staying the night in a hotel before setting off home.

If you really have to get soon as soon as you can after your holiday there are some tips on avoiding driver fatigue here.

They include planning your journey to include a 15-minute break every two hours and avoiding long trips between midnight and 6am when you are likely to feel sleepy anyway.

Why risk spoiling that lovely, relaxing break?

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