We are currently operating several Pause Stop sites across Victoria, encouraging drivers to pull over, recharge and get to their destination safely.
It’s more important than ever to understand the dangers of drowsy driving and fatigue, with large numbers of Victorians travelling regionally and interstate after many months at home, and unaccustomed to driving long distances.
- Driving when tired is a contributing factor in between 16-20% of all road crashes in Victoria.
- Fatigue is a major cause of crashes in Victoria, around 30 people die each year and up to 200 people suffer serious injuries due to these types of crashes (5 year average).
- 37% of people admit to driving while tired. That’s 1.6 million Victorians that are driving when tired each year.
- If you fall asleep for just four seconds while travelling at a speed of 100 km/h, the car will have gone 111 metres without you being in control.
- After being awake for 17 hours you will be impaired to the same level as someone with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.05.
- Fatigue isn’t only an issue on long distance drives, it is still a risk for short drives.
- People generally don't become fatigued from driving. Usually they are already tired when they get behind the wheel from long hours, shift work, lack of sleep, sleep apnoea or physically demanding roles.
Staying safe when driving
Avoiding driver fatigue
We spend around one third of our lifetime sleeping, and that’s because we need to. When we’re not getting enough sleep we become a risk on the road to ourselves and others.
Causes of drowsy driving
- a lack of quality sleep
- extreme tiredness brought on by not enough rest, this can also be due to mental or physical exertion or illness.
- driving when you would normally be sleeping (overnight)
- sleep disorders such as sleep apnoea, a sleeping condition that causes tiredness throughout the day.
Many people try to trick themselves into staying awake by listening to loud music, eating sugary treats or turning on the car air conditioning and opening the windows. These methods might feel effective initially however they won’t stop you being tired. It’s important to realise that you can’t fight sleep.
How fatigue affects your driving
While driving tired you might find you:
- Have trouble remembering the last few kilometres driven, day dream or miss exits or traffic signs.
- Drift from your lane, tailgate, hit a shoulder rumble strip or have difficulty maintaining a consistent, correct speed.
- Find yourself waiting at traffic lights or not seeing lights change.
- Have a slower reaction time when braking or stopping at intersections.
How to avoid tired driving
How to beat driver fatigue
The only way to address fatigue is by sleeping. Make a choice not to drive when tired or follow these guidelines to prevent fatigue:
- Get a good night's sleep before heading off on a long trip.
- Plan your route before you go and map out where you’ll take a break. Use the VicRoads map to find a rest stop on your way. Find rest stops on the VicRoads website
- Don't travel for more than eight to ten hours a day.
- Take regular breaks – at least every two hours.
- Share the driving wherever possible
- Don't drink alcohol before your trip. Even a small amount can significantly contribute to driver fatigue.
- Don't travel at times when you'd usually be sleeping.
- Take a 15 minute powernap if you feel yourself becoming drowsy.
How to know if you are tired
The signs of tiredness include:
- sore or heavy eyes
- slower reaction times
- finding you're daydreaming and not concentrating on your driving
- driving speed creeps up or down
- impaired driving performance such as poor gear changes
- stiffness and cramps
- loss of motivation
- Microsleeps which can be as little as a few seconds, your head may nod and then jerk to wake you up.
What we are doing about tired driving
- Encouraging the use of rest stops through partnerships with SES and local community groups. Find out more about our TAC Pause Stops
- Public education campaigns to increase awareness of the risks of tired driving