Westminster Lecture Press Release: The Dangers of Fatigue

Westminster Lecture Press Release: The Dangers of Fatigue

 3 November 2013


It is common for people in the UK to drive with levels of fatigue that are associated with some loss of ability similar to, and sometimes beyond what is seen at the legal alcohol limit for driving, according to fatigue and transport expert Dr Robert Hunter.

Speaking at the Parliamentary Advisory Council on Transport Safety’s Westminster Lecture on Wednesday night (4 Dec)* Dr Hunter will highlight the everyday risks we face from fatigue and driving.

“We have a complacent attitude to fatigue risks,” says Dr Hunter.  “Sleep deprivation is now so common in our society that feeling “tired all the time” has become normal and many do not appreciate the risk at which they are putting themselves and others when driving in such a state.

“In addition to the loss of ability that comes with fatigue, a particular risk is involuntary sleep and the way in which we can have little insight at the point at which it can happen. Drivers who are killed by falling asleep at the wheel, just before their deaths, most likely feel very tired but think that they will probably be fine.”

Dr Robert Hunter’s lecture will cover the dangers of fatigue in the transport sector, how it can be measured and managed.  He will focus mainly on aviation and road transport but also touch on maritime, rail and even walking and cycling.  The lecture will look at the question of how tired is too tired, meaning how tired is too tired to safely fly a plane, drive a car, ride a bicycle, or even be a pedestrian in an urban environment.

Dr Hunter will also address some of the wider socioeconomic costs of human fatigue in society and will report on the initial findings of British Air Line Pilots Association’s trials with pilots using an eye movement monitoring technology which is designed to monitor alertness and prevent fatigue-related accidents.





Dr Robert Hunter is Head of Flight Safety at the British Air Line Pilots Association (BALPA) and he recently gave evidence to the Transport Select Committee into its Flight time limitations inquiry. He was formerly Head of the Civil Aviation Authority’s Aviation Health Unit and a consultant specialist working in aviation medicine. During his time at the CAA he trained and secured a commercial pilots’ licence and flew on long-haul routes for FlyGlobespan on Boeing 767. He was also formerly a Non-Executive Director of the Health Protection Agency and has a particular interest in public health. He believes that not just in the aviation sector, but more generally, the hazard of human fatigue is underestimated.


* 24th Westminster Lecture on Transport Safety and 3rd UN Decade of Action Lecture takes place in Dean’s Yard on Wednesday December 4th, 2013 from 6pm.



The Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety (PACTS) is a registered charity and an associate Parliamentary Group. Its charitable objective is “To protect human life through the promotion of transport safety for the public benefit”.



Further media information or to arrange interviews:

David Armstrong/Becky Hadley       020 7808 7997

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