Many motorists are in danger of falling asleep at the wheel when regular breaks are not taken. Image Credit: Francois Nel/Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: With more people driving long distances to reach their work places or their homes after long working hours, police have warned against sleepy driving and said this was the cause of a rising number of accidents in the past few months in the UAE.

“Sleep deprivation is cause to some of the deadliest accidents in the Emirates. According to police 2011 statistics, sleepy drivers caused 28 accidents resulting in the death of six people and serious injuries to nine others,” statistics released by the Traffic and Patrols at Abu Dhabi Police recently revealed.

“Be aware of driving if you feel sleepy. Fatigue is a major factor that impact the motorist’s ability to drive safely. After a long working day, it is normal to be tired and physically exhausted which impacts the motorist reaction to an emergency,” said Hamad Al Baloushi,” director of the outer region division.

According to studies, sleep deprivation seriously impacts human performance. Negative impacts include slower reaction time that is caused by slower reflexes which prevent people from slowing down or stopping in time to avoid danger.

“When you are sleepy, your mental and psychomotor skills diminish. Being overly tired and sleepy has similar influence as being under the influence of alcohol or drugs,” said Al Baloushi.

Al Baloushi highlighted that driving long distance alone is risky. He called on motorists to park the car in a safe spot and rest, to avoid accidents for the safety and welfare of the society. He also recommended to be,attentive, observe the speed limit and respect the traffic regulations.

Dr Tarek Abdul Al, internist in a government hospital told Gulf News that on his way home after work I was so sleepy and it was a hot summer. “I guess must have fell asleep as I woke up when the car hit the side walk. It was quite a strong hit, the airbag opened and I was not hurt except of a minor burn from the airbag. I am lucky there was no traffic and I didn’t hit anyone. However, my car needed a week at the agency,” he said.