Fatigue-Related Road Accidents

Transport written question – answered on 9th December 2002.

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Photo of Don Foster Don Foster Shadow Secretary of State for Transport

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what initiatives have been undertaken by his Department to reduce fatigue-related road accidents since 1 January 2000; when each initiative took place; how much each cost; to whom contracts were awarded; what assessment has been undertaken of the projects; and what further action is planned.

Photo of Mr David Jamieson Mr David Jamieson Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for Transport

The Department is concerned about fatigue-related road accidents and has an extensive programme of publicity and research aimed at reducing these.

The Department has been using a variety of media to encourage drivers to plan their trips and to take suitable breaks on long journeys. These include:

nine bursts of radio advertising since August 2000 at a total cost of #1,165,000,

TV advertising in January, April, and August 2002 at a cost of #814,000, poster advertising in July and December 2000, and in February 2002 at a cost of

#121,000, some two million advisory leaflets costing #17,000 have been printed and distributed, many at Motorway Service Areas.

The total publicity spend in the current financial year on driver sleepiness has been #1.152 million, which is just over 8.4 per cent. of the publicity budget.

Since January 2000, advertising agency AMV.BBDO has been responsible for the creative work for the campaigns. Media buying until July 2002 was contracted to PHD, and to Carat Ltd. since then.

Quantitative tracking research demonstrates that awareness of the dangers of driving while tired has increased considerably. The costs of this are included in tracking all aspects of the Department's Think! Road Safety campaign, which is contracted to Taylor, Nelson, Sofres.

Nearly 400 Variable Message Signs on Motorways were used during the 2002 Easter period to carry the 'Don't Drive Tired' message in support of TV advertising. Over half those questioned at Motorway Service Areas said they had assessed their tiredness after seeing the message and some 12 per cent. of those surveyed decided to take a break as a result. The Variable Message Signs will continue to be used for this purpose over the coming year. The cost to the Highways Agency was some #40,000. Molt MacDonald (Consultants) were the project managers, SSL Ltd. and D.S. & S. Ltd. dealt with software changes and the Agency's routine maintenance contractors undertook the software installation. MVA Consultancy Ltd. surveyed drivers.

Advice on how to avoid and combat driver tiredness is in The Highway Code and on the DfTs road safety website at Xwww.think.dft.gov.uk". We will continue to warn drivers of the dangers of falling asleep at the wheel.

The Department has also undertaken considerable research to study driver sleepiness. The university of Loughborough Sleep Research Laboratory was contracted to carry out a series of road audits into sleep-related vehicle accidents on sections of selected trunk roads and motorways in the UK. The results were published in February 2001 in Road Safety Research Reports No. 21 and 22, available on-line at Xwww.roads.dft.gov.uk/roadsafety/index.htm". The cost was #268,000. This contract has been extended and requires the Loughborough Laboratory to undertake six more audits. The cost is expected to be #120,000 and the report is due to be submitted in May 2003.

Loughborough Sleep Research Laboratory have also been contracted to produce the following reports:

XOver the counter medicines and the potential for unwanted sleepiness in drivers. A review". The report was published in February 2001 as Road Safety Research Report No 24 and is available on-line as above. The cost was #5,000.

XA survey of Public Education Literature regarding Driver Sleepiness". The report was published in February 2001 and is available on-line at Xwww.roads.dft.gov.uk/roadsafety/sleepiness/index.htm". The cost was #5,000.

On-going research, scheduled for completion during December 2002, into Xthe interactions between sleepiness and moderate alcohol intake". The cost is expected to be #198,000.

A new research contract is being prepared to study XThe Effectiveness of Motorway Service Areas in reducing fatigue-related accidents". This is scheduled to start in January 2003 and last one year.

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