The Highway Code has been updated this month to refer to guidance on smart motorways, which have so divided drivers.

A total of 33 existing rules were amended and two new rules introduced.

Among those updated is Rule 91, which falls under the Fitness to drive category, and refers to ensuring drivers get 'sufficient sleep'.

Complying with the rule is paramount, and failure to do so could lead to severe penalties.

What does the updated Rule 91 say?

This is what the rule now says.

"Driving when you are tired greatly increases your risk of a collision. To minimise this risk make sure you are fit to drive.

"Do not begin a journey if you are tired.

"Get sufficient sleep before embarking on a long journey avoid undertaking long journeys between midnight and 6 am, when natural alertness is at a minimum plan your journey to take sufficient breaks.

"A minimum break of at least 15 minutes after every two hours of driving is recommended.

"If you feel sleepy, stop in a safe place.

"Do not stop in an emergency area or on a hard shoulder of a motorway."

The emergency area takes into account BRAND new definitions which have been brought in to better define rules around Smart Motorways.

What are the penalties for falling asleep behind the wheel?

Any accident that occurs as a result of falling asleep at the wheel is usually classified as 'dangerous driving', explains RAC.

Dangerous driving is a driving offence, and a more serious one than 'careless or inconsiderate driving'.

Aside from behaviours such as driving aggressively and ignoring traffic lights, it also covers "driving when unfit, including having an injury, being unable to see clearly, not taking prescribed drugs, or being sleepy."

If you are found guilty of dangerous driving, you could be hit with an unlimited fine, a driving ban and up to 14 years in prison, depending on the seriousness.

How to stay awake behind the wheel

RAC shares some tips to avoid drowsiness while driving. You should also be aware that certain medical conditions that may affect your driving need to be reported to the DVLA and your insurance provider.

Rest adequately before setting out on a long journey

Include 15-minute breaks for every two hours of driving when planning a journey

If you start to feel sleepy, find a safe place to stop as soon as possible

Drink two cups of coffee or other high caffeine drinks and have a rest to allow time for the caffeine to kick in

Avoid making long trips between midnight-6am and 2-4pm when natural alertness is low

Share the driving if possible

Avoid eating a big meal before driving – remember this when stopping at a service station for a bite to eat!

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