Driver Fatigue: Are you too tired to drive?

In Queensland in 2013 there were 6,921 hospitalised casualties as a result of motor vehicle accidents. Of these 6,921 hospitalised casualties, 295 were a result of speeding drivers/riders, 576 a result of drink drivers/riders, and 478 were fatigued related crashes.

This means that in 2013 fatigue related crashes accounted for more hospitalisations than speeding drivers/riders. In total almost 7% of hospitalised casualties from motor vehicle accidents were as a result of fatigue related crashes.

In 2013 there were 271 fatalities on Queensland roads as a result of motor vehicle accidents, of these, 41 were as a result of fatigue related crashes. This equates to 15% of Queensland’s road fatalities.

These statistics show that fatigue related crashes play a significant part in relation to motor vehicle accidents in Queensland.

How does fatigue contribute to motor vehicle accidents?

Fatigue occurs where a driver/rider is tired and/or drowsy either physically or mentally and their ability to operate their vehicle safely is impaired.

It has been shown that the effect of fatigue on the human body is similar to that of the effect of alcohol. The effects of being awake for 17 hours is similar to having a Blood Alcohol Concentration of 0.05. While being awake for 24 hours or more is similar to having a Blood Alcohol Concentration of 0.10, which is equivalent to twice the legal Blood Alcohol Concentration limit.

There are a number of reasons that drivers may suffer from fatigue, these include:

  • Lengthy periods of driving
  • Being awake for long periods of time
  • Driving at a time when you would normally be asleep
  • Working long hours without a break
  • Some medical conditions

There are a number of steps you can take in an attempt to combat driver fatigue, these include:

  • Take regular breaks both when driving for lengthy periods of time and when working for lengthy periods of time
  • If you feel yourself becoming drowsy whilst driving, pull over and park the vehicle somewhere safe to have a nap, or call someone to come and pick you up.
  • If you plan on driving for a significant length of time, make sure that you get a good night’s sleep the night before your trip
  • If you are traveling in a group share the driving between the licensed drivers so that each person has the opportunity to rest.
  • Keep the vehicle you are traveling in well ventilated with the windows down where possible
  • It is also suggested that keeping the radio on or music playing aids with driver fatigue
  • During the school holiday and public holiday periods, the Queensland government opens volunteer-operated Driver Reviver stations that distribute free tea, coffee, and snacks. A list of the opening dates and locations for the Driver Reviver stations can be found on the Queensland Government website.

Driver fatigue is a prominent issue in motor vehicle accidents in Queensland and it is important that drivers recognise the signs of driver fatigue and take action to combat it. Remember, if you feel too tired to drive then don’t, you’re not only putting your own safety at risk but also the safety of other drivers on the road.

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