One in three motorists admit to compromising the safety of themselves or others while driving in the dark, tired, according to new research commissioned by motorway service operator Roadchef.

With British Summer Time officially ending, Roadchef and road safety charity Brake have teamed up to raise awareness of the dangers of driving in the dark. Several factors, including lack of visibility, tiredness and adverse weather conditions during autumn and winter can all increase the risk of collisions.

The companies refer to government statistics showing that 34% of road-related injuries for car and motorbike users happened between 6pm and 6am, despite far fewer cars on the road during this time. The conclusion is that darker hours are more dangerous, with research suggesting that the peak times for fatigue and tiredness related crashes fall within the hours of darkness.

Government statistics show that motorways have the highest average traffic flow of any roads, with 817,000 vehicles for every mile of motorway per day, and yet 42% of surveyed motorists claim they do not stop for a break when on long journeys.

When asked what keeps motorists alert on the roads, over half (51%) said having the windows down kept them focused, while 45% said loud music, and 40% reported that using air con helps. Roadchef and Brake voiced concerns that these methods are not proven to work and if tiredness kicks in then it is important to stop and rest, including having a nap, as soon as possible.

As nights get longer, Brake and Roadchef are reminding motorists that taking regular rest stops can be a life-saving measure.

Mark Fox, CEO of Roadchef said: “We take our mission to make Britain’s roads safer and happier seriously. Driving in the dark can be dangerous and tiredness can kill, which is why it’s so important for motorway service areas to provide an environment where motorists are able to relax and then continue their journeys safely, especially when travelling long distances through the winter months.”

Samuel Nahk, senior public affairs officer for Brake, said: “As the nights get longer, it is vital that drivers are fully aware of the dangers of driving in the dark, and that driving tired can be fatal. There are, however, steps that drivers can take to reduce the risk of being involved a crash if they must drive at night. This includes ensuring they are well rested before setting off, planning their journeys in advance, and not setting off in a car if they are tired or expect to become tired during the journey. Taking regular breaks is also essential and we advise all drivers to take a break of at least 15 minutes every two hours. If you feel tired, you should pull over somewhere safe and have a nap because continuing to drive tired can have devastating consequences.”

Roadchef is one of the UK’s leading motorway and trunk road service area operators. With 30 locations, the company aims to provide a restful and relaxing environment for over 52 million visitors to its motorway service areas each year.

For the second consecutive year, Roadchef has been voted the best of the big three motorway service operators in England, with its Norton Canes services voted the number one choice for satisfaction and first impressions by consumers responding to the independent Transport Focus survey.