Fatigue statistics

Fatigue is extreme tiredness brought about by not enough rest over a period of time whether from mental or physical exertion or illness.

Ideally, each individual needs between seven and eight hours of good quality sleep each night. Those with less build up sleep debt, or sleep deficit.
At worst, drivers with sleep debt risk nodding off, yet fatigue can impair reaction time and decision making when behind the wheel which increases the risk of being involved in an accident.

If a driver falls asleep for just four seconds while travelling at a speed of 100 km/h the car will have gone 111 metres without a driver in control.

At high speed, a crash is likely with a high risk of death or severe injury. Fatigue is a major cause of crashes in Victoria resulting in some 50 deaths and approximately 300 serious injuries each year.

Drivers at Risk

Those groups of drivers considered at greatest risk of being involved in a fatigue-related accident are:

  • young drivers
  • shift workers (including heavy vehicle drivers)
  • drivers with sleep disorders


Around 20% of fatal road accidents involve driver fatigue. According to VicRoads Road Accident Facts Victoria, 1998 Edition, about 30% of severe single vehicle crashes in rural areas involve the driver being fatigued.

A Federal Government inquiry, Beyond the Midnight Oil, Managing Fatigue in Transport, House of Representatives Standing Committee on Communications, Transport and the Arts, October 2000 into managing fatigue in transport reported fatigue related road accidents alone cost around $3 billion every year.

A study conducted by the Adelaide Centre for Sleep Research concluded:

  • a person who has been awake for 17 hours faces the same risk of a crash as a person who has a BAC reading of 0.05 g/100ml. They are therefore twice as likely to have an accident as a person with a zero blood alcohol content who is not fatigued.
  • Drivers who have been awake for 24 hours will have a driving performance similar to a person who has a BAC of 0.1 g/100ml. They are seven times more likely to have an accident.

See our Fatigue campaigns here.