To survive on holiday roads, sleep in, turn your headlights on

Up to 50% of serious crashes involve fatigue. Truck drivers and recent arrivals from overseas are high risks.


Driving while tired or hungover can be as dangerous as driving while drunk, says the car review website editor Clive Matthew-Wilson, who is an outspoken road safety campaigner, says:

Fatigue is a factor in up to half of all crashes.

A drowsy driver can be as dangerous as a drunk driver.

Worse still: driving with a hangover can also be as dangerous as driving drunk.”

According to the respected American Centre for Disease Control, a staggering 20% of people have actually fallen asleep at the wheel in the past year, while in one study, one in 25 drivers reported having fallen asleep at the wheel in the previous month.

Matthew-Wilson says the number of fatigue-related accidents is probably heavily under-reported, so the actual numbers of deaths caused by being tired are actually far higher than previously thought.

Who’s at the greatest risk from fatigue?


  • Teen and young adult drivers.1,3,5
  • Drivers on the road between midnight and 6 a.m. or in the later afternoon.1,3
  • Drivers who don’t get enough sleep.1-3
  • Commercial truck drivers.6
  • Drivers who work the night shift or long shifts.1,6
  • Drivers with untreated sleep disorders—like sleep apnea, where breathing repeatedly stops and starts.1,6
  • Drivers who use medicines that make them sleepy.3
  • Recent arrivals from overseas

Matthew-Wilson also urges drivers of older cars to keep their headlights on during the day while travelling.


"It is estimated that 50% of daytime road accidents involve one road user failing to see another road user."

Daytime Running lights can lower the daytime road toll by 25%.  In fact, Daytime Running Lights are so effective that many new cars come standard with them."

"Factory-fitted Daytime Running Lights usually switch on and off automatically, so you don’t have to think about them. However, if you have an older vehicle without automatic Daytime Running Lights, drive with your headlights on at all times over the holidays and remember to turn your headlights off at the end of the journey. And be careful to make sure your headlights are dipped so you don’t dazzle other drivers."

"A car with its lights on is easier to spot than a car with its lights off. It's that simple."


1. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. NHTSA Drowsy Driving Research and Program Plan. U.S. Department of Transportation; 2016. DOT publication HS 812 252. Accessed November 18, 2022.

2. Wheaton AG, Shults RA, Chapman DP, Ford ES, Croft JB. Drowsy driving and risk behaviors—10 states and Puerto Rico, 2011–2012. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2014; 63:557-562.

3. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Drowsy Driving. Accessed November 18, 2022.

4. Tefft BC, AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. Prevalence of Motor Vehicle Crashes Involving Drowsy Drivers, United States, 2009–2013. Washington, DC: AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety; 2014. Accessed November 18, 2022.

5. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Teen Driving. Accessed November 18, 2022.

6. Institute of Medicine. Sleep Disorders and Sleep Deprivation: An Unmet Public Health Problem. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press; 2006. Accessed November 18, 2022.