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Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Fatigued Queensland Drivers Refuse To Stop This Easter

Queenslanders are urged to drive safely this approaching Easter long weekend (22-26 April). The call coincides with the release of the Suncorp Insurance research* on fatigue driving, which shows that more than one-quarter of fatigued Queensland drivers (27 per cent) will not stop for a break.

“With an extraordinarily long Easter break occurring this year, we expect many Queenslanders to hit the road for the holiday weekend – with more traffic than usual, it’s important to take extra care as we must have safer Queensland roads,” said Mike Sopinski, Suncorp Insurance Corporate Affairs Manager.

Fatigue is a cause of approximately 13 per cent of deaths on Queensland roads annually (source: Queensland Transport), yet Queensland drivers continue to put themselves and other road users at risk.

Story goes here.Fallen asleep at the wheel
The Suncorp Insurance research shows that almost one-quarter of Queensland drivers (24 per cent) have momentarily fallen asleep at the wheel. Furthermore, 6 per cent of the state’s motorists said that fatigue/tiredness had contributed to a crash in which they were involved.

Drivers push themselves four hours or more
“Despite the dangers, 15 per cent of Queensland motorists are willing to drive for four hours without a break and of greater concern is that 7 per cent will drive even longer without stopping,” said Mr Sopinski.

Worst offenders – young females
“The Suncorp Insurance study identified fatigued young female drivers aged 18-24 as the least likely to stop for a break (41 per cent) followed by male drivers aged 25-34 (39 per cent), and drivers who cover between 10,000–20,000km per year (25 per cent). Motorists with less than 10-years driving experience are also unwilling to take a break when tired (36 per cent).

“Driving while fatigued represents a serious risk for drivers and their passengers – drivers are advised to travel no more than 8-10 hours in total per day and to take regular breaks of 10-15 minutes out of their vehicle, at least every two hours,” said Mr Sopinski.

“Fatigue-related crashes tend to be more severe than others, due to drivers’ delayed reaction times and failure to take action to avoid a crash. As a driver, you are responsible not only for yourself but also for your passengers and other road users.

Individual responsibility
“When it comes to fatigue driving it’s entirely up to the individual to determine if he or she is too tired to be safely driving a vehicle. Sadly, many Queensland motorists seem to be incapable of making that decision and the absence of detection and enforcement may be contributing to motorists tempting potential tragedy,” said Mr Sopinski.

“Fatigue is the only one of the Fatal Four which police are not able to immediately identify and take action against as no device or established measure to gauge car driver fatigue levels currently exists.

“Suspected alcohol-affected motorists can be tested and if found over the legal limit immediately put off the road but when it comes to fatigue – measuring just how tired is too tired to be driving presents a significant enforcement problem – thus leaving the decision to drive a car solely up to the individual.

“As a leading car insurer that handles thousands of car and CTP claims from our customers who have had an accident, we are all too familiar with the terrible effects of road trauma,” said Mr Sopinski.

Ten tips for avoiding fatigue
1)    Avoid beginning a trip at the end of a day’s work
2)    Ensure you have adequate sleep and are well-rested the night before you set out
3)    Don’t drive at times when you would normally be asleep e.g. early hours of the morning
4)    Schedule regular rest breaks outside the vehicle – 10-15 minutes rest every two hours
5)    Share the driving where possible
6)    Never drink alcohol (not even small quantities) before or during long trips
7)    Eat proper and well-balanced meals preferably at your normal mealtimes
8)    Try to maintain a cool temperature inside the vehicle
9)    Don’t drive while taking medication that may affect your driving – check labels on medicine
10) Allow extra time and take a powernap if tired

Ten signs of fatigue
1)    Constant yawning
2)    Drifting in your lane of traffic
3)    Sore or heavy eyes
4)    Trouble keeping your head up
5)    Delayed reactions
6)    Loss of attention, daydreaming or ‘zoning out’
7)    Difficulty remembering the last few kilometres
8)    Variations in driving speed
9)    Mood swings such as irritability or boredom
10) Blurry vision or ‘seeing things’ e.g. objects or shadows on the roadside appear distorted