Fatigue is estimated to be a contributing factor in approximately 30% of fatal crashes and up to 15% of serious injuries, in fact, in 2012 more people in NSW died in fatigue related crashes than drink driving crashes.
Driver fatigue can be just as deadly as drink driving or speeding, in fact being awake for about 17 hours has a similar effect on driving performance as a blood alcohol content of 0.05.
The following signs can indicate fatigue:
- Continual yawning
- Difficulty keeping head up and eyes open
- Eyes feel sore and heavy
- Vision starts to blur
- Seeing things
- Difficulty holding a conversation
- Impatience and making rash decisions
- Reactions seem slow
- Feeling stiff or cramped
- Wandering over the centre line, into another lane or on to the road edge
- Hearing droning or humming in your ears
- Not noticing a vehicle until it suddenly overtakes
- Not remembering driving the last few kilometres
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms it is time to stop, rest and revive – if you notice any of this occurring, you are already in danger.
To prevent reaching this stage, there are a number of simple steps that you can take when venturing out on long journeys.
Tips to prevent fatigue:
- Plan your trip with a good night’s sleep (7-8 hours of uninterrupted sleep) the night before.
- Plan not to travel for more than 8-10 hours in any one day. The longer you drive the more you must fight fatigue.
- Plan your trip to include regular breaks every two hours for 15 minutes or more.
- Plan to start your trip early in the day and try not to drive into the night.
- Don’t push yourself.
- When you stop, get out of the car, stretch and walk around for a while or have a nap.
- Don’t rely on coffee and energy drinks. Water will keep you hydrated.
- Share the driving if you can. Passengers can tell you if you are looking tired or showing signs of tiredness. Driving with a friend can also make it a more enjoyable trip.
- Don’t overeat.
- Don’t drink alcohol before driving or during rest breaks. Alcohol can make you feel tired more quickly, as well as putting you at risk of being over the legal limit.
- Check the labels on prescription medicines that may affect your alertness or cause drowsiness. If this is the case, contact your pharmacist or local GP for advice.
- Ensure that your vehicle is fitted with quality auxiliary driving lights. Halogen, LED and HID lights are all great additions to your vehicle and can help to improve your night driving experience. HID and LED in particular can help to ward off fatigue as the bright white colour of their beam assists in keeping drivers alert.
For more information about driver fatigue and road safety, head to your local transit authority and to find out more about the Lightforce range of products, head on over to the product section of our site!