Sleepy Drivers Die - Queensland

Sleep Disorders Australia has launched a campaign in Queensland sponsored by the RACQ that is aimed at raising awareness and educating people about the dangers of driving without adequate sleep. Many Australians don't realise that driving when sleep-deprived can be just as dangerous as driving while intoxicated by alcohol or drugs. Too many people consider driving while tired to be a normal part of everyday life. It is important that people know that this behaviour causes crashes and is killing people.

Extreme tiredness brought about by not enough sleep puts drivers at a much higher risk of nodding off, however driver fatigue can also impair reaction time and decision making, which further increases the risk of being involved in an accident. Australian research shows drivers who have had 17 hours of sleep deprivation face the same risk of a crash as a person who has a blood alcohol concentration of 0.05 g/100ml. They are therefore twice as likely to have an accident as a person with a zero blood alcohol content who is not fatigued. When you consider that one in every five car accidents is related to fatigue, it amounts to a lot of harm caused by people not getting enough sleep.

If you are feeling sleepy, stop driving immediately. The only cure for sleepiness is sleep.

Signs of Drowsiness:

  • Heavy eyelids, eyes closing, frequent blinking, or trouble focusing
  • Trouble keeping your head up
  • Drifting between lanes, hitting a shoulder
  • Constant yawning, rubbing your eyes
  • Daydreaming/wandering thoughts
  • Difficulty concentrating on driving, missing exits or traffic signs
  • Tips for Staying Safe on the Road:

  • Make sure you have had plenty of sleep before you leave
  • Be aware of the effects of medications you are taking (some may increase drowsiness)
  • If you have to drive a long distance, share the driving with someone else
  • Don't rush. It’s better to arrive at your destination safe than on time
  • Do not drink alcohol. Even very small amounts of alcohol will enhance drowsiness
  • Avoid driving between 1am and 6am, this is a time when sleepiness is most intense
  • Do not rely on short-term remedies to offset the feelings of fatigue e.g., turning up music, drinking coffee/energy drinks etc. If you feel tired or notice signs of drowsiness pull over and take a short power nap
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    Many Queenslanders embark on road trips over the holidays. This often means driving for an extended period of time through landscape which can be very monotonous. “It’s vital drivers take a break every two hours, and don’t travel more than eight to 10 hours in one day.” Steve Spalding, RACQ Head of Technical and Safety Policy.

    Mr Spalding said there were many myths surrounding staying alert behind the wheel. “Some motorists tout the benefits of coffee, energy drinks, fresh air, loud music and air conditioning to help them stay awake,” he said.

    “These methods do not work. The only solution for fatigue is to take a break and, if necessary, have a sleep.

    There are plenty of Driver Reviver sites around Queensland – utilise them and plan your journey so that the drive, including breaks, are part of the holiday.

    Click on the link below for a detail list of Driver Reviver sites, including information about operating hours and the facilities available.
    https://www.qld.gov.au/transport/safety/holiday-travel/stops/reviver

    References:
    RACQ Head of Technical and Safety Policy Steve Spalding
    Queensland Government