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Drivers take care over Easter

20 March 2013

Drivers take care over Easter

Holiday-makers travelling through the Horizons Region are being reminded of the dangers of driver fatigue as Easter approaches.

Horizons Regional Council road safety coordinator Alane Nilsen said during holiday periods people tended to make longer journeys and, combined with increased traffic flows, this accentuated the problem of driver fatigue.

“Driver fatigue is a serious road safety issue in New Zealand and for the Horizons Region alone fatigue was a contributing factor to more than 114 crashes during 2012,” she says.

Crashes involving driver fatigue are often the most violent on the road as they occur when drivers have either fallen asleep or react too late to brake or avoid an impending crash.

Mrs Nilsen encourages drivers and their passengers to be aware of the symptoms leading to driver fatigue such as sore eyes, constant yawning, drifting off the road, frequent and unnecessary changes in speed, and slower reaction times.

“If you’re drifting over the centre line, over correcting or your head is nodding, this indicates a ‘micro-sleep’. These short sleeps are incredibly dangerous,” says Mrs Nilsen.

“Although there are some tips and tools for avoiding fatigue, driving is a complex mental and physical task that requires sustained levels of concentration and skill. The only thing that can truly beat fatigue is sleep”.

Mrs Nilsen suggests the following for drivers planning long trips:
• Drivers get plenty of sleep before leaving on a trip;
• Avoid setting out on a long journey after having worked a full day;
• Try not to drive when you would normally be asleep (early morning and late at night);
• Take regular breaks, and if feeling sleepy then a short ‘power nap’ of no more than 20 minutes is encouraged;
• Share the driving where possible;
• Eat well balanced meals and take non-alcoholic drinks regularly during the trip;
• If you are taking any medication, check whether it causes drowsiness; and
• Use the air conditioning (outside air flow) to keep you more alert.

ENDS

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