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Women less than half as likely to nod off on the road - but half of drivers say they get less than 5 hours' sleep...

Men are much more likely than women to nod off at the wheel, with almost half of male drivers saying they have started to fall asleep while driving.

Seven per cent of drivers say they have fallen fast asleep on the road - a statistic that road charity Brake says accounts for 300 deaths a year.

The study of 1,000 drivers carried out for Brake found that half had driven after less than five hours’ sleep - which the charity considers too little for safe driving.

45 per cent of male drivers says they have experienced their heads ‘nodding’ from tiredness, while only 22 per cent of women reported the same thing.

Episodes of head ‘nodding’ are also known as micro-sleeps of between two and 30 seconds.

Julie Townsend, deputy chief executive of Brake, told the Times (£): “The fact that so many drivers, especially men, have head-nodded at the wheel is horrifying.”

She added: “This survey suggests this is down to many people failing to ensure they always get sufficient sleep before embarking on journeys.”

Last year we reported how a 73-year-old motorist who killed a cyclist received a six-month suspended sentence after pleading guilty to causing his death through careless driving, although medical experts were not certain if he fell asleep at the wheel or whether undiagnosed Parkinson’s Disease lay behind the incident.

Cyclist James Greenwood, aged 74, died in hospital from multiple injuries sustained when he was struck from behind by a car driven by John Plummer on Darlington Back Lane in Stockton last November, reports the Northern Echo.

Sentencing Plummer at Teeside Crown Court, Judge Peter Bowers said: "This sort of case raises a lot of emotions, and I have to be careful that I reflect in any sentence not only the tragic outcome, but also the culpability you must bear for the death of another human being."

David James, defending Plummer, said in mitigation that he was unaware that he was suffering from Parkinson’s disease and that he was not feeling tired prior to the incident.

He added that Plummer, who lost his partner when she was killed by a vehicle on a zebra crossing ten years ago, did not plan to drive again.

After an unpromising start, having to be bribed by her parents to learn to ride without stabilisers, Sarah became rather keener on cycling in her university years, and was eventually persuaded to upgrade to proper road cycling by the prospect of a shiny red Italian bike, which she promptly destroyed by trapping a pair of knickers in the rear derailleur. Sarah writes about about cycling every weekend on road.cc.