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Avoiding car accidents: Managing fatigue

Driving tired

A tired driver is a dangerous driver. There are no two ways about it. Drowsy drivers tend to make more mistakes on the road because sleepiness slows reaction time and impairs judgment. While nobody is immune to feeling tired, studies show that some people are more likely to be sleep deprived than others, such as shift workers and 18 to 25 year olds.

The 18–25 age group tends to be involved in more fatigue-related accidents because of inexperience behind the wheel, lack of sleep and irregular sleep patterns. The latter holds true for shift workers as well. Your brain is programmed to put your body to sleep at certain times of the day. In the mid-afternoon and especially in the early hours of the morning, your brain will send signals to your body to go to sleep.

At night, your body temperature falls, digestive system slows and hormonal production rises to repair your body. All these changes will make you feel drowsy and, try as you may, you will not be able to fight the fatigue by opening the window or playing loud music.

Despite what you may have heard, cooler temperatures will not keep you awake. While you may think that you are more alert, the fatigue remains at the same level. Only sleep can cure tiredness.

The best way to survive the drive is to be aware of the symptoms of fatigue and effectively manage them.

Warning signs of tiredness include:

  • yawning
  • sore or heavy eyes
  • dim or fuzzy vision
  • you start ‘seeing’ things
  • droning and humming in ears
  • general tiredness
  • stiffness and cramps
  • aches and pains
  • day dreaming
  • delayed reaction times
  • unintentional increases or decreases in speed
  • fumbling for gear changes
  • car wandering across the road.

The driver reviver program aims to reduce the effects of driving tired by encouraging motorists to ‘STOP REVIVE SURVIVE’.

View the driver reviver timetable.

Tips to avoid driving tired

Before driving:

  • get plenty of sleep
  • plan ahead – work out rest stops and overnight stops
  • avoid alcohol
  • check medications with your doctor and make sure they won’t make you drowsy
  • eat sensibly – not too little, not too much

When driving:

  • take regular breaks – you should stop for at least 15 minutes every two hours
  • share the driving if you can
  • use rest areas, tourist spots and driver reviver stops
  • stop and rest as soon as you feel tired
  • never drive for more than 10 hours in a single day
  • get plenty of fresh air

Rest areas

  • Rest areas are there for you to stop and rest, making your trip safer and more enjoyable.
  • Rest areas are not long-term camping sites. However motorists are able to take extended rest breaks at some sites.
  • Rules on the length of stay at rest areas vary between controlling authorities. You can stay up to 20 hours, including overnight, at some rest areas.

Heavy vehicle rest areas

Heavy vehicle rest areas are only for heavy vehicles. This does not include caravans; they are for truck drivers only.

Audible edge lining

Audible edge lining has been introduced to reduce crashes caused by driving tired. These edge lines, which cause vibration of the car when crossed, alert drivers when their car begins to veer off the road.

If you need help following an accident, contact Sinnamon Lawyers on 1800 007 277 to arrange an obligation free appointment or seek our expert advice about your legal position following an accident.

Thanks to Queensland Transport and Driving Plus for these handy hints

Please contact me regarding an accident

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