Just as thousands of holidaymakers are about to descend on France from all over Europe, a new study should spark an element of caution among motorists.
According to a study publish on Wednesday by the French Association of Motorway Organisations (ASFA) it is not speed which is causing the greatest number of deaths on French motorways, but fatigue.
Although the number of fatalities on French motorways, or autoroutes as the are called here, is 25 times less than on France’s national or departmental roads, scores of people are still killed on the highways each year.
According to the ASFA study 40 percent of those deaths are due to a lack of vigilance, caused by fatigue, drowsiness or lack of concentration.
Most of the fatal accidents on French motorways occur late at night, in the early hours of the morning, or in the afternoon, when drivers are most vulnerable to fatigue and tiredness.
In all one in three accidents on French motorways are caused by fatigue.
The second cause of death on fatal road accidents on French motorways is drink or drug driving, which is the reason behind one in five deaths.
The study also found that the month of July is the deadliest month on French motorways, with one fatality every two days.
The official advice for drivers to avoid putting themselves at risk of nodding off at the wheel is to stop every two hours to rehydrate.
Smartphone app to help drowsy drivers
In a bid to tackle the problem a French company has created a smartphone so drivers can test their reaction speeds to see whether they are awake enough to take to the road.
Fondation Vinci Autoroutes, which operates motorways in France has developed the smartphone app called “Drive Awake” (“Roulez eveillé” in French), which is already available on iPhones.
It has been designed by neuroscientists from the University of Strasbourg the application is a “simple test” based on measuring the reaction time of the user to a visual stimulus test.
Professor André Dufour told AFP the app had been tested on people who suffered from sleep deprivation and that “it was very sensitive to changes in reaction times.”
For more information on the app, CLICK HERE.