London, Jan 20 (ANI): A new study has claimed that driving for more than three hours without a break at night is the equivalent of being drunk behind the wheel.
To assess the extent to which tiredness hinders driving performance, researchers at Utrecht University in the Netherlands recruited 14 healthy young men aged 21 to 25.
Under supervision, each one drove for two, four and eight hours at a time through the night.
They had to maintain a constant 80mph on the motorway and remain in the centre of their traffic lane.
Researchers used video recordings to monitor the safety of their driving.
After the experiment, they compared motorists' performances with what's already known about the effect alcohol can have on driver safety.
The results showed that after just two hours behind the wheel, the drivers were already making the same mistakes they would if they had 0.05 per cent blood alcohol content.
At three hours, their performance corresponded to 0.08 cent blood alcohol content - the national limit and by four-and-a-half hours it was equivalent to 0.10 per cent.
"Our data show that drivers should take sleepiness behind the wheel seriously. It is one of the primary causes of accidents on motorways," the Telegraph quoted the researchers as saying.
"Yet drivers themselves are sometimes unaware of sleepiness, reduced alertness and corresponding impaired driving.
"Measures such as playing loud music or opening the window are of limited use. A maximum continuous night-time driving duration of two hours should be recommended."
The finding has been published in the Journal of Sleep Research. (ANI)