Darker days more tiring for van drivers

Darker days affect van drivers' physical and mental health; new research

More than a third of van drivers in the UK suffer from fatigue during the darker, shorter days of autumn and winter, while nearly half admit to almost having fallen asleep at the wheel, new research suggests.

According to the Mercedes-Benz Vans Business Barometer, which monitors the opinions of more than 2,000 people in van community, more than eight in 10 (83%) feel more tired in the autumn and winter compared to summer, with 45% admitting they suffer from low mood more in the darker, colder winter months.

As a result of the darker days, 40% of van drivers said they suffered from fatigue, with nearly half of respondents admitting they have nearly fallen asleep at the wheel (48%).

Almost one in three (30%) van drivers said they suffer from symptoms akin to Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) in winter. 

The results showed a significant difference between those who spend more time on the road, with 61% of those who spend more than 50 hours of their working week in their van feeling more fatigued in winter, compared to 41% of those who work between 15 and 20 hours a week in their van.

The most common method to alleviate tiredness when driving is by taking a break, with 62% saying this is what they do. The second most common technique was winding down a window (58%). Over half (53%) of UK van drivers keep a blanket in the car in the winter months, 61% keep a snack in their vehicle, and 74% of those van drivers aged 55+ keep a torch in their van in the winter months, compared to 48% aged 16-24.

Steve Bridge, Managing Director, Mercedes-Benz Vans UK Ltd, said: “Although no one should be afraid to drive during the darkness of a winters’ morning or evening, it is something that requires extra consideration before even setting out on the road. 

“The hard-working van community is not immune from the impact of SAD or increased isolation during the winter months, so during this period of the clocks changing, we’re determined to raise awareness of just how tiring it can be on both physical and mental health this of year.”