Heading off on a long drive? Avoid driving tired as fatigue is a common cause of crashes on Victoria's roads.
Like alcohol, fatigue slows your reaction time and affects concentration and decision-making skills which are crucial to safe driving.
It doesn't matter how well you think you know the road or how much further you have to travel. If you're feeling drowsy, pull over.
Tips to avoid fatigue
Use Driver Reviver sites to take regular breaks.
Ensure you've had a good quality sleep prior to a long drive.
Don't drive at times that you would ordinarily be sleeping.
Never drink alcohol - even small quantities - before and during long trips.
Share the driving when possible.
Schedule regular pit stops - at least every hour-and-a-half.
What doesn't work
Having a cup of coffee, tea or caffeine drink
Winding down the window
Turning up the air-conditioner
Turning up music in the car (also a distraction)
What to do if you become drowsy while driving
- Find a safe place to stop and take a 15 minute powernap. Driver Reviver sites, available during most holiday periods, are ideal for this.
Fatigue is basically extreme tiredness. This is 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 and
- drivers with sleep disorders.
People often nod off or fall asleep when not intending to - while sitting on the couch watching TV, during a long meeting, or reading a book or newspaper but if it happens while driving - even for a couple of seconds - the car is out of control.
Informing drivers about the dangers of fatigue and key avoidance strategies are high road safety priorities for the TAC, with the aim of helping to reduce road trauma on Victoria's roads.
Download the fatigue case study below:
Big Hit features two Victorian cricketers Brad Hodge and Cameron White. It shows a training drill to demonste how well you perform when you are not fatigued. This underlying concept is designed to establishes in the viewer’s minds a link between cricket and driving. In cricket players must take a break every two hours and to manage fatigue, drivers are encourage to take a break, have a powernap or swap drivers every two hours.
Zoning out is a symptom of fatigue
Seen through the front windscreen of a car, we see the driver's hands and oncoming traffic. Every few seconds the picture stands still, showing that the driver has ‘zoned out. After one such episode, we see the car hit a tree. A 15 second follow up commercial shows the driver taking a powernap.
"After a Week of Shift Work, this is what a bend in the road looks like"
Shot from the perspective of the driver, it is us driving down a country road. The car wanders, a bend in the road blurs and you meander into the oncoming lane. The screen goes black. Then we see the tree we are about to collide with. "It's no substitute for a good night's sleep, but a 15 minute powernap could save your life".
Powernap promoted a new slogan and new approach to the problem of fatigue - “A 15 minute powernap could save your life.”
Two families leave for a camping trip at the same time. We see a driver, the father of one family, take a break. The father of the other family drives on even though he is tired, he dozes off and runs off the road with dire consequences.
A man is driving an old car along a road a night, he is sleepy and sees a road sign for the town he is heading to. He turns the corner, loses control of the car and slams into a tree.