HC Deb 16 December 1999 vol 341 cc244-5W
Mr. Kidney

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions (1) if he will establish a research group to provide advice on sleep-related incidents across the transport modes. [102506]

(2) what assessment he has made of the number of road crashes in which sleep is a contributory factor; and if he will make a statement; [102503]

(3) what advice he plans to issue to drivers to reduce the incidence of sleep-related road crashes; [102505]

(4) what research his Department is undertaking into sleep-related road crashes; [102504]

Mr. Hill

The Department began a major research programme on fatigue in December 1992, conducted at Loughborough University. The first phase included a comprehensive study of HGV and car drivers. The results suggested that, for car drivers in particular, tiredness is a principal factor in around 10 per cent. of accidents.

The next phase of the research looked at the relative effectiveness of possible counter measures to tiredness, to ensure that drivers have the best possible advice on how to minimise the risk of a sleep-related accident. Recommendations derived from this work have since been incorporated into the Highway Code.

Much of the research undertaken in the road safety area has relevance in rail, air and maritime situations and vice versa. It is also significant that leading experts in this field are very aware of each other's work. A further phase of the Department's research, begun in September, is reviewing successful measures that have been employed elsewhere in the world and in different operating environments. This includes a requirement to develop a targeted programme of publicity and education to counter driver fatigue. When this is completed in September 2000, the Government will consider what action to take, including whether to commission further research.