New research from the AA Charitable Trust has revealed that 42% of drivers under 34 have driven home after work while “very tired” in comparison to a quarter of all drivers, and a third of young drivers have driven to work very tired compared to a sixth of all drivers.

The poll asked: Under which, if any of the following circumstances, would you say you have driven despite feeling very tired?

Driving while tired after an early start or late finish at work is the most common time for drivers under 34. But, for all drivers the most common time is long motorway journeys, with 30% admitting to it.

The most recent road casualty statistics show tired drivers contributed to 53 fatal and 351 serious crashes in 2017. The AA Charitable Trust have state it is acknowledged by many that the true figure for fatigue related crashes is far above this (due to under-reporting). It is estimated that up to 25% of fatal accidents are caused by drivers who fall asleep at the wheel.

Edmund King, director of the AA Charitable Trust, commented on the poll’s findings: “Young people make up a disproportionate part of the so-called gig economy. The pressures this type of work places on them may explain partly why they are trying to push on through tiredness on their commutes. But, attempting to plough on through tiredness is very dangerous. The only long-term remedy for tiredness is sleep itself.

“Fatigue related crashes tend to be very serious because if the driver is asleep they do not steer away from a collision or brake. On motorways, our fastest roads, this tends to be catastrophic.”

Drivers in Northern Ireland were the most likely to answer the poll’s question with “a late finish” or “an early start” at 30% and 19%respectively.

46% of drivers in the North East were most likely to answer they had never driven when very tired. Drivers in Northern Ireland were the least likely to agree with this (36%).

The AA Charitable Trust launched a Drowsy Driver campaign in 2017, featuring an emotive video, reminding drivers to be alert to fatigue.They warn them that things like winding down a window or turning up the radio are symptoms of fatigue – not a remedy for it.

They advise drivers that this means they are too tired to continue their drive, suggesting stopping at the next safe place; drinking two cups of coffee (or equivalent caffeinated drink) and napping for around 15 minutes.